Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media | Extent to which developments in the tourism sector are being monitored
To ask the Minister for Tourism; Culture; Arts; Gaeltacht; Sport and Media the extent to which she continues to monitor developments in the tourism sector with a view to ensuring insofar as is possible that the industry is capable of meeting its targets in terms of seamless access to all necessary services in the sector including the smooth running of ports and airports, the making of arrangements to ensure that those seeking a holiday for perhaps the first time in some years are facilitated insofar as is possible and that the sector is adequately provided for by way of adequate staffing throughout; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
The Recovery Oversight Group, which has provided valuable inputs to the Government on the measures required to assist the tourism sector, reports to me on a regular basis with updates on the implementation of the recommendations set out in the Tourism Recovery Plan 2020 – 2023 and on the recovery of the sector more generally.
In terms of international perception, there is a risk of damage to Ireland’s tourism offering and the promotion of Ireland as a good value destination through negative customer experience arising from the issues and challenges arising within the sector during this post-Covid reopening phase.
Many of these issues and challenges, such as reduced services and higher prices as a result of inflation, energy costs, labour shortages/recruitment challenges and supply chain issues, occur in other counties around the world. We see them manifested in Ireland in a lack of affordable accommodation and car rental options in certain areas, and in delays at Dublin Airport. In this regard, Tourism Ireland is monitoring any reputational impact from pricing concerns overseas and is reporting weekly on this matter to the Department.
My officials have engaged with many stakeholders, including, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, the Irish Hotels Federation and the Car Rental Council of Ireland, in order to further understand the underlying issues giving rise to the current challenges facing the sector. They are also working with the tourism agencies to identify potential remedial actions, such as the reweighting of marketing campaigns to ensure promotional activity is aligned with supply across the year.
The Tánaiste and I co-chair the Tourism and Hospitality Forum; this grouping is due to meet next week and this will offer another opportunity to discuss and address these issues.
My Department and Fáilte Ireland are continuing to collaborate with industry and other Government Departments to ensure that there is a coordinated approach to addressing labour and skills shortages. The additional funding I obtained for Tourism in Budget 2022 will allow for targeted investment in human capital, skills development and education to help address particular employment challenges faced by tourism businesses in attracting talent, assisting skills development and retaining staff. Fáilte Ireland has an extensive plan in place to support the tourism industry to address both its immediate and longer-term recruitment challenges including initiatives such as: a marketing campaign to drive awareness of live jobs in the sector, a range of supports to build the industry’s recruitment capabilities, the new Transition Year Work Placement Programme to provide tourism and hospitality businesses with a direct link to students looking for work experience, a programme to support businesses to access people on the Live Register via the Government’s new Pathways to Work strategy and linking businesses with local third level students.
While the effective operation of ports and airports is of critical importance in terms of the recovery of our tourism sector, these matters fall within the remit of my colleague Mr. Eamon Ryan T.D., Minister for Transport. With specific regard to the pressures at Dublin airport, I am of course concerned that if this situation were to persist it could cause significant reputational damage for the country abroad and as a result hinder the recovery of our tourism sector. I understand, however, that both Minister Ryan and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton are continuing to hold meetings with the CEO of the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) and his management team on these matters. Several key measures have been rolled out which aim to mitigate the risk of a repeat to recent delays and though challenges remain, the DAA has advised that the measures they have taken will substantially mitigate risk during this busy summer period.
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