Thursday, 7 November 2013
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
16. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will outline in detail the way the reduction of €12.9 million in revenue allocation for the tourism section from his Department will impact on that sector in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47141/13]
37. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the 11% reduction in tourism funding in budget 2014; the ramifications for Tourism Ireland’s ability to promote Ireland internationally and on Fáilte Ireland’s ability to promote Irish holiday destinations domestically and generally on the impact on the tourism industry here. [47115/13]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 16 and 37 together.
This was a very good budget for tourism with the most significant result being the retention of the reduced VAT rate for the tourism sector. This measure has been critical to reviving the fortunes of this sector since its introduction. This is complemented by the reduction of the air travel tax to zero - the impact of which is already visible in terms of new services.
The industry will also benefit from measures such as the increase in the cash receipts threshold for VAT from €1.25 million to €2 million and the continuation of the diesel rebate for coach tour operators.
In line with the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, there has been a reduction on the allocation for tourism services, to €123m. The bulk of the saving in current expenditure is accounted for by the ending of once-off funding of the Gathering - some €7m in 2013. The remainder is made up of pay and programme savings as well as operational efficiencies across the tourism agencies. Excluding this, the net reduction is some €9m. However, with the Budget Stimulus package providing an extra €8m for the Wild Atlantic Way project, the real reduction in recurring funding is equivalent to just €1m.
In the first nine months of 2013, overseas visitors to Ireland have increased by 6.4%. The challenge for the tourism sector in 2014 will be to build on the success of this year. I am happy that the provision that is now being made for tourism services this year is sufficient to assist the sector to do just that.