Seanad debates

Tuesday, 11 March 2003

Adjournment Matters. - Tourism Industry.


2:30 pm

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)

I thank the Senator for raising this matter on the Adjournment. It gives me little pleasure to speak about the challenges facing the tourism sector when, for the third year in a row, the industry is facing economic and financial pressures caused by events completely outside its control. The Senator's motion calls for encouragement of the airline and hotel industry to adopt flexible practices in relation cancellations during the current volatile market situation. Obviously, this is a commercial matter for each business to decide, as appropriate, given its particular circumstances and relationship with its customers.

As Members of the House are aware, responsibility for the airline industry falls within the remit of the Minister for Transport and his Department. Obviously, as air access is key to tourism development, the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism is keeping in close and regular contact with the Department of Transport as contingency plans evolve for a possible Gulf conflict. The Minister has been informed that Aer Lingus is following recent practices adopted by US carriers in order that customers wishing to postpone their travel plans to and from the United States will be issued with vouchers that can be used at a more opportune time. To date no changes are envisaged in other markets and the relevant companies are keeping the situation under review.

As regards the hotel sector, only last week the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism attended the annual conference of the Irish Hotels Federation where he heard at first hand the very latest developments and approaches being adopted by hoteliers in order to sustain their business this year. I know they have responded very positively to calls for flexibility and I am confident they are unlikely to take any action which would weaken the very good relationship they have with tour operators whom they regard as valued customers. I understand each hotel will decide on what practice to follow, which will protect their business in the longer term while meeting their customer needs as best they can.


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