Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Whilst the immediate focus is on the survival of tourism businesses, I believe we have an opportunity to address sustainable tourism development in a more meaningful way during the recovery and rebuilding phase following this crisis. Promoting responsible travel through activities such as eco-tourism will be key to minimising any negative environmental impacts of tourism and will help to protect and conserve our natural landscape and built heritage for future use by future generations.
A Sustainable Tourism Working Group set up under the aegis of my Department published Guiding Principles for Sustainable Tourism Development at the end of 2019. This sets out the ambition that “Ireland will seek to be amongst the world-leaders in sustainable tourism practices”. Earlier this year, in order to maintain momentum on the sustainable tourism agenda, I reconvened the Working Group to complete the development of a set of actions that promote sustainable tourism practices which can be implemented prior to a new national tourism policy being developed.
I expect to receive the Group’s final report shortly which will outline the steps that can be taken to promote sustainable tourism practices in the short term. Following on from this, I will be instructing my officials to initiate the development of a new national tourism policy later in the year. This policy will mainstream sustainability, rather than having it as an additional consideration. I am clear that I want the recovery in the sector over the coming years to be sustainable in environmental, social and economic terms.
In regard to ongoing infrastructure development, in line with its functions under the National Tourism Development Authority Act, Fáilte Ireland is responsible for tourism product development. Accordingly, as any plans to support eco-tourism infrastructure would be an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland, I have referred this question to the agency for direct response to the Deputy. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.