Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Select Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport
National Tourism Development Authority (Amendment) Bill 2015.
Apologies have been received from Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick. This meeting has been convened for the purpose of considering the National Tourism Development Authority (Amendment) Bill 2015, as referred to the committee by Oder of the Dáil on 5 July 2016. I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy O'Donovan, and his officials to the meeting. Before we begin, I remind members to ensure their mobile phones are switched off completely, as distinct from putting them on airplane mode, as they cause interference with the broadcasting service.
This is a minor technical Bill. Section 1 amends section 24 of the National Tourism Development Authority Act 2003, as previously amended in 2011. This amendment is being made to reflect changes in ministerial roles and responsibilities since the legislation was first amended in 2011 and provides that, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform rather than the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport may make allocations to Fáilte Ireland, being the National Tourism Development Authority as constituted under this Bill, from moneys provided by the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Section 24(2) of the National Tourism Development Authority Act 2003, as amended in 2011, is being amended to provide for an increase in the cumulative limit that can be provided by the Oireachtas to the National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland, in relation to capital expenditure. The limit is being increased from €150 million to €300 million.
As the Minister of State is aware, Fianna Fáil is happy to support the passage of this Bill. I would, however, like to raise with him a number of issues provided for therein. The increase in the aggregate budget allocation for the National Tourism Development Authority, more commonly known as Fáilte Ireland, from €150 million to €300 million is welcome. Can the Minister indicate if the cumulative limit will ever be achieved given since 2012 annual Government funding for Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland has been cut by €25 million to €119 million, a decrease of 17%? This reduction in funding is a constraint on the marketing and development of our tourism sector. While the proposed increase is welcome in theory, unless it is followed up with resources it will not make a whole lot of difference.
While the authority has a remit in regard to education in tourism, it does not have any remit in terms of education in the hospitality sector. There is a critical shortage of people to work in the service industry, including chefs, waiting staff and bar staff, which can be linked to the abolition of CERT. In light of the proposed increase in the ceiling in terms of what can potentially be spent, are there plans within the Department to establish a model similar to CERT to support the training of people to work in the service industry?
I would also like to raise a specific issue with the Minister of State, which I appreciate he may not be able to respond to today but might come back to me on it. Fáilte Ireland recently commenced a tender process in regard to the establishment of a marketing campaign for areas to the left of Ireland's Ancient East and right of the Wild Atlantic Way.
I am straying a little. The purpose of the Bill is to provide for an increase in the amount of money that can be spent. I appreciate the Chairman's leniency. The tender referred to is prescriptive in terms of the focus being on areas to the left of Ireland's Ancient East and the right of the Wild Atlantic Way, which means counties Longford, Westmeath, Offaly and Tipperary, which for some unknown reason form part of Ireland's Ancient East, will be excluded. The programme for Government commits to the establishment of a Lakelands brand. A report commissioned by Waterways Ireland and Fáilte Ireland recommended the establishment of a Lakelands brand. Will that brand be established and does the tender process commenced in the last two weeks form part of plans in that regard?
I thank Deputy Troy for signalling his support for the Bill. As I said on the opening Stages of the Bill, it is fairly straightforward. It allows Fáilte Ireland to expand its capital allocation, that is, the amount of money that it will be able to spend. We are at a stage now that even on the current trajectory, Fáilte Ireland will reach its capital ceiling very soon under the current legislation, so there is a sense of urgency about the development of the brand.
Regarding the last two points Deputy Troy raised, the Lakelands brand and the deficit of skills for the hospitality industry, on Monday I chaired a meeting of the tourism action group within the Department at which these two issues were raised. The group is representative of the stakeholders involved in tourism: hotels, tour operators, the Department, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland. Work on the Lakelands initiative is under way by Fáilte Ireland and the chief executive is due to report to the Department on the progress that has been made. As soon as I have that report I will share it with Deputy Troy. This is a commitment in the programme for Government of which I am very conscious, not only Lakelands, but also that whole corridor in the country from Cavan, Monghan and east Donegal right down to the outskirts of Cork city that falls between two stools, my own county included.
There was bewilderment in some quarters about the inclusion of some parts of the country in Ireland's Ancient East and the exclusion of others. However, it should be considered based on the mapping that Fáilte Ireland has developed, the series of routes and corridors that can be followed and the network of monuments and settlements, particularly as one goes further west. Even in my county, part of south Limerick is in Ireland's Ancient East purely because some of the most important Iron Age settlements in the country are in east Limerick, not out of any wish to have this county or that county included. A series of parameters was followed which set out where the early settlements of the Irish were once they started moving up from Wexford and Waterford, into the midlands and out to the west. However, Deputy Troy is right that there is a commitment in the programme for Government in this regard. We are working on it, and as soon as I get the update on it, I will provide it to him.
The reality is that our brands have proven to be hugely successful. There was some concern at the outset about whether these would work. However, having holidayed this year at home both on the Wild Atlantic Way and in Ireland's Ancient East and having talked to people in the industry, in hotels and restaurants and so on, they will say that there is a marked difference, particularly in the north west, in Donegal, where I was for a good chunk of the summer. They will say that people from Limerick, Kerry and Waterford and so on are now travelling up along the north west who would never have done do before. Similarly, while Ireland's Ancient East is probably at a much younger stage in its development, it is a different product and is being marketed and staged by Fáilte Ireland as a different product so that the two do not compete with each other but that, with the Dublin brand, A Breath of Fresh Air, they complement each other. Deputy Troy is right in that regard.
I have a big concern about the middle of the country. However, to be honest - I know we are drifting, Chairman, and I thank you for your indulgence - local authorities have a huge role in this. I have spoken in response to questions in the Dáil as well about this element of capital grant allocations. It is within the remit of local authorities, if they want to get specific projects done, to apply for the large capital allocations, the grants system disclosed recently. Local authorities have it within their ambit to apply for that. To give the committee a case in point in my area, between Limerick and Clare, the Shannon Estuary is not included in the Wild Atlantic Way. However, the Limerick City and County Manager, with his Clare colleague, is considering the development of a route specifically for the Shannon Estuary that will not be branded the Wild Atlantic Way but will for all intents and purposes attract people off it. Local authorities therefore have a big role in this as well. Under the new Local Government Act, it is not that they can or that they might look at tourism as an economic driver; the Act says very clearly they must look at it. The regional action plans for jobs state the same thing. The City and County Managers Association sits on that tourism action group as well, and I have been very clear with the city and county managers that there are targets in the regional action plans for jobs and the tourism strategy in terms of people, place and policy that they have to get to, for example, even as basic an issue as making sure that local authorities have it within their grasp to have a tourism development officer.
I have answered questions in the Dáil about tourism offices. There are local area offices in Westmeath County Council, Longford County Council and every small- and medium-sized town in the country. Now that the Local Government Act has been amended and local authorities have a tourism role, there is nothing to prevent local authorities taking on the role of providing information in their areas from a tourism point of view. They are now empowered under the legislation to do so, therefore, it is not all about Fáilte Ireland.
I agree that there is a gap in the market, and that gap has been driven by the fact that the other two areas have been so successful. That is the stimulus for me as the Minister with responsibility for tourism, to go to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and to say that the targets that we have for capital funding are ambitious and we want to drive them forward. That is why the cumulative amount of the capital investment plan is €5.6 million for Fáilte Ireland for 2016-21 and €125 million for the Tourism Development Project by 2022. The targets originally set out in 2003 and amended in 2011 have already been reached, so while we are here to amend legislation to allow the ceiling to be increased so that Fáilte Ireland can deliver the work that they need to deliver, we should not restrain ourselves or be less ambitious. Deputy Troy is right that between 2012 and now, Fáilte Ireland has taken a fair whacking. However, by the same token it has delivered some huge projects in that time. I would see this legislation as empowering Fáilte Ireland to tell the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that over the last number of years, in the worst possible days of the economy, it still delivered some key pieces of critical capital infrastructure. The legislation is now amended. We have capital allowances. However, I would not say to Fáilte Ireland that it must be restricted within five years to do meet its target. If it reaches its target within two and a half or three years, I - and whoever my successor is - would be delighted to see Fáilte Ireland coming back again and to amend the legislation again.
Regarding culinary skills, again, this came up at the tourism leadership group on Monday. A piece of work specifically regarding chefs has already been carried out because the Restaurants Association of Ireland, the Irish Hotels Federation and the people who are involved in it will all say there is a shortage of chefs and that is a big problem. However, there is a model that is working and, again, local authorities have a big role to play in this if they want to, as well as through the education and training boards. As a case in point, in my area, in Limerick, the Limerick and Clare education and training board has taken it upon itself to look at the skills shortages in the regional action plan for jobs between the hotels and restaurants industry and is prepared to fill them. I agree with the Deputy in this regard. We do not need to go back down the road of establishing another agency to look at this. I think Solas, through the national apprenticeship programme, which is working with Fáilte Ireland to make sure that such a skill set is met, is the right agency to do this.
In each of the regions where the regional action plan for jobs has been identified, there is a requirement to identify the skills shortages. Culinary skills is a very clear one, and Fáilte Ireland, with the Department and the groups that are involved in the tourism action group, is in the process of finishing that work with Solas. I imagine that we will see progress there but, again, there is a model there which works. Education and training boards at a local level can do this. We have several colleges of catering and hotel management across the country as well that have excellent students. However, I agree that now that the industry is beginning to expand at an astronomical rate - it really is, here in Dublin particularly - we need good people and we need to be able to provide opportunities for our own people here at home to take up the jobs that are being created. I will provide the Deputy with a full update on the two issues that he raised from the tourism action group and to Deputies O'Keeffe and Munster and the Chairman.
This contains the Title of the Bill and the collective citation, which refers to the Tourist Traffic Acts 1939 to 2015. This is enabling legislation and is a purely technical Bill. It will allow Fáilte Ireland to get on with the job we all want it to do. It will meet its existing ceiling later this year and there is a sense of urgency in the context of getting the Bill passed. I thank the committee for facilitating this. We are all anxious that the projects Fáilte Ireland and all of us are trying to get done are allowed to get done.
I apologise for my late arrival. The increase in the cap on spending on capital tourism is welcome. I presume there is a six-year plan for Fáilte Ireland. Can we have sight of the plan? Does the six-year plan include Tourism Ireland? If we are planning for the next six years, it is important that we do so on an all-Ireland basis, particularly with regard to cross-Border tourism. If this is not the case, then we should examine the position.
The funding is very welcome. Will there be oversight, particularly in light of what has happened in the past? We must ensure there is oversight of the funding in the coming six years. Will there be targeted investment? The Wild Atlantic Way has taken off and is hugely successful. Ireland's Ancient East is starting to take off but has not yet reached its full potential. We also have the midlands region, which has been left out. It is like the doughnut effect and there is nothing in the middle. What targeted plans are included to bring other areas up to the same level as the Wild Atlantic Way, in particular Ireland's Ancient East? The Minister of State said Fáilte Ireland has targeted specific products from Wexford to Wicklow and has plans, but there are other areas of equal importance which perhaps have not received the same promotion or been given the same opportunities as others. For this reason, it is important that we see sight of the plan, given that extra funding is being allocated, which is very welcome.
The Minister of State mentioned local authorities and the amended Local Government Act. Throughout the State, local authorities state they cannot provide a tourism officer because there is no funding. If there is an onus on them to promote tourism in their areas and it is something they must do, will funding be made available so they have the tools and are unable to state no funding is available or they have staff shortages and do not have the manpower to promote somebody? If we are to have a six-year plan, it is important that all of the ducks are in a row and local authorities are provided with the facilities and are not on the back foot from the get go.
I welcome the proposal to raise the ceiling, but I hope it is more than just an aspiration and that extra money will be allocated. I hope the Minister of State impresses this on the Minister for Finance. We all welcome the work done by Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland in promoting this country as a destination and a place to travel. It is ironic that some of the advertisements show a few locals in their local pub, perhaps with some music or having a bit of chat. Is there anything the Minister of State can do under his tourism remit to help make local pubs sustainable? There is no point in promoting an item that might not be there in another decade. Day in, day out we hear of pubs closing. I am a regular traveller to Listowel for the races and writers' week. A number of pubs there have closed in the past ten years. Fáilte Ireland highlights the atmosphere, camaraderie and friendship of the local pub. If will lose this we will lose tourism.
I thank the Minister of State. I also thank the Chairman for his leniency with regard to what is being discussed. The Minister of State spoke about the fact we have many centres of excellence, predominantly in our institutes of technology, which run courses in hotel and catering. We still have a chronic shortage at present. This is why I have referenced CERT in the past. We did not have this chronic shortage but we do now. Do the institutes of technology have the capacity to deal with it? Has an audit been carried out to see whether they have the capacity? If they do not, where will we meet our capacity? This has the potential to strangle tourism growth.
We have had a phenomenal number of years of increased tourism to the country. The Wild Atlantic Way was very good and built on from The Gathering a number of years ago, which was another very good initiative. We have also been very fortunate from the point of view that the euro has been weak against the US dollar and the English pound, which are factors outside of our control. In light of the fact that Brexit will soon be a reality and that sterling has decreased in value, what actions will the Department undertake to ensure that we can meet and surmount these challenges? I do not for a minute suggest that all our tourism is based on cost, but it is a factor. Unfortunately, we have also noticed in recent years that hotels and restaurants have started to push their prices back up. We want to ensure we will remain competitive because this is key when people make a decision on where to go on holiday.
I thank Deputy Munster for her support for the Bill. There is no actual allocation of money in the Bill. It sets out a parameter and ceiling that will allow Fáilte Ireland to draw down funding from the Exchequer over a period of two, three, four or five years. The legislation will have to be amended in future. To a degree, this is a good thing but it is also onerous. Not all State agencies must operate under this process, which makes matters quite difficult for Fáilte Ireland. However, as ceilings are approached and reached, the legislation must be amended again. The process must go from here to Report Stage and back to the Seanad. There is a bit of time involved.
Fáilte Ireland is in the process of rolling out its large capital allocations. Its smaller capital allocations will be rolled out over a period. It does this on an ongoing basis at arm's length from the Department. While Fáilte Ireland is statutory agency, it is independent of the Government and operates on that basis. Obviously, it follows the policy of the Department on the initiatives we want to pursue, such as Ireland's Ancient East, the midlands, the Wild Atlantic Way and Dublin: A Breath of Fresh Air. Its role also extends to being the promotional authority in Great Britain, by virtue of the fact that Tourism Ireland is not a capital agency. Its remit was established, as a North-South body, under the Good Friday Agreement. Its role is to promote the island of Ireland. In recent months, I have been hugely impressed with the programme of work done by Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland in response to a number of threats that exist, which Deputy Troy mentioned. As recently as this week, representatives of Tourism Ireland are in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the Middle East - they will also go to the Far East - to promote the island of Ireland, North and South.
There are problems looming. It is great that there are problems because the fact that they exist and that there are capacity issues shows there is growth in the industry.
It also makes my job easier in attracting Department of Public Expenditure and Reform money into the industry.
Deputies Munster and Troy alluded to the difficulty with languages. Forty thousand people from China visited the island of Ireland last year. We have a major problem with attracting Chinese guides, namely, people with fluency in Chinese, or with doing even as basic a thing as providing Chinese interpretative boards or audio sets in some of our larger visitor attractions. Fáilte Ireland's large and small capital grant allocations will allow visitor attractions to do that. Approximately 200 of the guides operating in Ireland are predominantly based in the UK. Fáilte Ireland is considering bringing them together so as to ensure that they are up to speed with Chinese when giving out information. It is important that we get the right message out. We do not want a message that is simply taken from Wikipedia, a travel guide or so on. This is a challenge for us as a small country.
Brexit presents other challenges, for example, with the visa entry scheme. The Department of Justice and Equality, which is the responsible Government agency, is working on this issue. Brexit is a major issue, as is the value of sterling. If people from abroad who are considering holidaying in Ireland are curious visitors, the types who are interested in heritage, the arts, walking, trails and so on, will they instead consider Scotland? A large proportion of visitors to the island of Ireland are from Great Britain and the value of sterling is something that they will have to take into consideration, no more than any of the rest of us would do as regards the currency in our own pockets were we going on holiday. In this context, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland have submitted a strong request, one that I support, as part of the Estimates process to the effect that our overseas marketing budgets be increased because now is not the time to regress. Rather, it is the time to drive our marketing on.
There is also a call to the commercial sector. On Monday night, I launched a drive by the Dublin tourism interest groups, which comprise Fáilte Ireland, the four local authorities that have invested in it and the commercial sector. The commercial sector is a significant beneficiary of the upturn in the tourism industry, particularly in Dublin. Regarding what is happening in Dublin, I am on record as saying that I have major concerns about capacity in the first instance, but also competitiveness. What happens in Dublin has a trickle-down effect in Deputy Munster's constituency of Louth, Mitchelstown in Deputy O'Keeffe's constituency and Mullingar in Deputy Troy's constituency. Undoubtedly, there are problems. There is capacity, but one cannot magic up hotel rooms. They will not just fall off the back of a ship down at the docks. Planning, financing and construction take time. Many will remember how, not that long ago in 2011 when I first came to the Dáil, tumbleweeds were blowing through hotels in this city. Nothing was happening here. All of a sudden five years later, hotels are full.
While that is great, we must ensure that the temptation to take the road of using the last 10% or 20% of rooms to drive up prices and take the customer for a ride is avoided. If it is not, then there will be reputational damage and we will be back to where we were in 2004 to 2006 when we were anti-competitive. I will make a point to the committee, and I am sure that all of the members will agree - the industry has a responsibility here, as does the Government and the Oireachtas. We all must play our roles. The proof of the pudding is that the Government has put its cards on the table in four successive years in terms of the VAT rate, the capital investment that we have allowed for Fáilte Ireland and the allocations that we have made to Tourism Ireland on a North-South basis, as Deputy Munster mentioned. In response, we expect people to act responsibly, including by maintaining a competitive advantage and not giving in to the temptation to drive up prices through comparisons with large cities like Madrid and Barcelona. Dublin is not Madrid or Barcelona. That message must be clear. It is a significant player in the European tourism market and is competitive currently, so we must not lose that competitiveness. Along with issue of Brexit, which Deputy Troy mentioned, this is a singular threat.
Deputy Munster discussed oversight. There is oversight of Fáilte Ireland. I will engage with this committee on a regular basis and Fáilte Ireland will also appear before it. Its annual accounts and reports are subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General. While this legislation makes it difficult for Fáilte Ireland to work, it adds to the level of accountability and oversight applied to that body. Fáilte Ireland will also announce an agreed capital plan on an annual basis. Importantly, it is held to account by me and the Department in the first instance but also by the Oireachtas. As the committee sets out in its work, it would also be important for members to meet Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland regularly and hold them to account for the initiatives and projects to which they have committed. In the same way, I hope that my engagement with the committee, albeit on narrow legislation today, would be extended.
I will turn to the funding that is available to local authorities. I was a councillor between 2003 and 2011. Since that time, many of the responsibilities that local authorities had have been taken away from them. These include third level grants, water and the centralisation of certain housing functions, for example, the housing assistance payment, HAP. Local authorities now have an opportunity. Some have been to the fore in this regard. Recently, I met the Cork county manager. His plan for Cork County Council is superb. There will be no additional staffing. Instead, existing staff will be upskilled and allowed to drive forward. Consider what Waterford City and County Council is doing with greenways or what Deputy Troy's local authority in Westmeath is doing with Belvedere House and Gardens. The Chairman's local authority is working on greenways in north and south Kerry. As to my own area, Limerick City and County Council has a tourism officer for the first time. The officer is an existing staff member whom the council, after the person changed positions, has taken the opportunity to upskill.
Every county has a Leader partnership or local development company. Those groups have a role to play as well. My county has established an ad hoctourism development committee, for want of a better word, comprising the local development companies Ballyhoura Development and West Limerick Resources, Limerick City and County Council and the Shannon Group. There is no reason for every other local authority in the country not to do likewise. I expect councils to do this. If there are blockages in State agencies, be it Fáilte Ireland or the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, councils will have the opportunity through Oireachtas Members and local authority members to meet me and discuss their plans for their respective areas, as I am only too delighted to meet local authority members to discuss those. If there are blockages, I would like to hear about them.
I will not say that city and county managers might be able to do this. Instead, they should be doing it. Every city and county manager should have a member of senior staff who is taking responsibility for this issue because it forms part of the country's economic development. Tourism is no longer something that is restricted to the Chairman's constituency where one can take a jaunting car around the lakes of Killarney in a bánín jumper. That day is gone. Tourism now is a real industry in every part of the country for real people who have real jobs with real mortgages and who rear real children. It is no longer acceptable that local authorities might not play their part. I have asked my departmental officials to conduct an audit of local authorities to determine how they stand on this matter. Authorities are required to do this under the Local Government Act and the Action Plan for Jobs.
There is no funding issue. Unlike when I was a member of a local authority and for the first time, local authorities now have access to their own funding. They have discretion that they never had previously. If they believe that it is in their interests to drive their local economies, they will rise to the challenge. If they do not, then it is for councillors to hold them to account.
I would say the same of tourism offices. Every town has a local authority office. There is no need for us to build more. Instead, we should find out where there are empty spaces, be those in Dublin, Ballinasloe or wherever.
Those local authority buildings must be used for purposes other than just the traditional local authority services. Tourism is now a traditional local authority service and must be viewed as that. Local authorities must open themselves up to that and some, in fairness, are doing an excellent job.
Deputy O'Keeffe asked if this is an aspiration or a reality. That we are here amending the legislation so soon after the last time demonstrates this is more than an aspiration. I have no doubt the legislation will have to be amended again in the short term. It will depend on how much the economy expands and the more money Fáilte Ireland and I can get, the more we will be able to spend on places like Doneraile Court, which I visited recently. It is a fabulous addition to the Deputy's constituency that is funded by Fáilte Ireland and Ballyhoura. It is a great asset for east Cork. There are similar projects on Spike Island and in Youghal.
The Deputy mentioned the local pub and he has a willing ally here anyway. I am not in any way ashamed that my brother and family members are publicans. I see that a very important part of the licensed trade is the development of the tourism industry. In fairness to the trade, it has been blamed for many of the social ills in the country and wrongly so in many cases. Most publicans are very responsible and have much to offer. The largest visitor attraction in this city is the Guinness Storehouse, which proves there is a strong attachment between the food and beverage industry and the tourism product. We do not need to apologise for that. Most publicans are responsible and have a role to play in the tourism industry. I was in Dunmore East in Waterford last week and I had a fabulous day there. The finest bowl of chowder I got was in a pub in Dunmore East. Such facilities offer a very important part of a package, and without them, we could not deliver the package. The Deputy is correct that the attractiveness would not be there either.
Deputy Troy mentioned the institutes of technology and skill sets. As I indicated a while ago, SOLAS is charged with making sure those skills exist and the tourism action group has identified chefs as an issue in the first instance, although there are also issues with front of house and waiting staff in restaurants. We want to ensure people in the first instance have an opportunity through the tourism industry to get a good job, build a career, upskill and have the opportunity to have a mortgage and rear a family in the local community. It is an indigenous industry like agriculture.
I am not in favour of the establishment of another agency or anything like that but Fáilte Ireland, SOLAS and my Department can work together with the industry to see where there are shortages. The relationship with the institutes of technology and education and training boards is critical. There is already a precedent in the facility for Limerick and Clare, which is providing the next generation of staff for hotels in Limerick, Clare, north Tipperary, Offaly and elsewhere in three-star, four-star and five-star accommodation, as well as restaurants. This Bill is part of a suite of measures taken to shore up the industry, including the measures relating to the travel tax, the VAT rate, the separation of Shannon Airport and the development of brands. These were done when tourism was on its knees but it is now flying. Nevertheless, we must spread the benefits across the country.
I will speak about risks. My county is affected by the lack of a brand down the middle of the country and there is a danger from "overbranding". Just as there cannot be an accident and emergency department at every crossroads, one cannot have a brand at every crossroads. We must be very careful. Australia is many times the size of Ireland and has one brand in the Great Ocean Road. We must not dilute the value of the brands that we have. Nevertheless, the corridor from the Finn Valley in Donegal to the outskirts of Cork City, Coachford and Blarney is an area that concerns me and the Department. That is why the city and county managers have been asked to formulate a strategy with the local development companies in the first instance. Fáilte Ireland is looking at a brand. It will be very difficult to keep all the balls in the air while ensuring every townland in the country is included in a brand. We do not wish to overbrand because the message will get lost, which would be worse than having no brand.