Moving Forward with Cantillon: Speech by Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport

27th March, 2015

Good afternoon everyone – it is very good to be here. I want to thank Minister of State Jimmy Deenihan for the invitation and to IT Tralee for the opportunity to briefly address you all.


This event is by no means my final engagement of the day, but I have been in Munster for two days now and my programme of events will conclude this evening.


I have been struck by the enthusiasm of those I have met, be they operators of essential services like the coast guard, be they the engineers responsible for new roads projects or be they local business people who are ambitious for the companies they run here in Kerry and throughout the South West.


That is the beauty of trips like this for people like me- first-hand experience of the ideas and the entrepreneurial zeal of people working in the real economy.




This gathering of great minds meets to discuss entrepreneurism in a rapidly improving domestic economy.

It is worth noting that in GDP terms it is expected that the economy will expand this year by at least 4%, one of the fastest rates of growth in Europe, following on from last year’s figure of close to 5%.


Simultaneously, unemployment has fallen significantly in the last two years and the Government’s recently published Action Plan for Jobs seeks to underpin the momentum towards full employment.


That is not to say that the Government is complacent. We are very much aware that unemployment is high and the recovery is fragile. We are also very much aware that much work needs to be done to aid job creation in parts of the country where economic growth has yet to be fully felt.




There are many areas relevant to my own Department that I could speak about – the importance of a modern, well-funded transport infrastructure to an entrepreneurial economy is an obvious one.


But in the limited time I have with you, and on the subject of the need for balanced regional growth, I would like to talk to you about tourism and how we intend to help tourism entrepreneurs in the years that lie ahead.


At the outset, I want to say that the Government does not create jobs but rather implements policies to allow the private sector to create them.


That approach is very evident in our approach to tourism. Earlier this week, the Taoiseach and I launched a new national Tourism Policy entitled “People, Place & Policy; Growing Tourism to 2025”.


It commits this Government to helping the tourism sector to grow through;


–          Targeted overseas marketing;

–          Investments in festivals and events;

–          Enhancing the competitiveness of our tourism offering through, for example, the 9% VAT rate, if this is in turn supported by the industry in terms of pricing;

–          Working with local authorities and other Government departments and national bodies to ensure a whole of Government approach to support tourism businesses.


Last year saw strong growth in the tourism sector with an extra 600,000 visitors in comparison to 2013, with over 7.6 million visits in 2014.


People, Place and Policy thinks we can be much more ambitious and sets targets of;


–          overseas tourism revenue of €5 billion per year;

–          250,000 people employed in tourism;

–          underpinned by ten million overseas visitors to Ireland per year


Those targets will only be met if private companies and dynamic individuals avail of the policies, infrastructure and supports that Government provides.

I am confident that they will.


The real attraction of a booming tourism sector is the benefit it brings to rural communities.


You will all be aware of the success of the Wild Atlantic Way.


Our support for the Wild Atlantic Way to the tune of €8 million to date, and with a commitment of a further investment of €2 million, will result, I believe, in increased visitors to the town and villages peppered all along its two and a half thousand kilometres.


Included in that investment is €3million for route signage and €4.6million for the development of the 189 Discovery Points and 25 embarkation points to ensure that a product offering that is second to none is delivered along the Wild Atlantic Way.


These towns and villages along the route, which are remote from Dublin and often remote from other centres of population, industry or employment will directly feel the benefit of our investment.


Tourism Ireland, Failte Ireland and my own Department will help make tourists aware of the Wild Atlantic Way and everything else Ireland has to offer.

But it is the tourism businesses –the B&Bs, the hotels, the restaurants, the visitor atractions-  that will bring them here, keep them here and encourage them to return.


It is not just the Wild Atlantic Way that we are developing.


A proposition which is currently in development to encourage tourism in the south and east of the country, which I will launch in the coming weeks, will see the cultural and heritage tourism assets and experiences of that region being grouped via a network of routes, trails and journeys.


This will result in a new tourism experience that can easily be understood and which will attract overseas visitors.


Crucially, as with the Wild Atlantic Way, it will result in the benefits of our tourism industry being felt throughout the country – not just in major urban centres.




I can think of no better event than a meeting on entrepreneurship along the Wild Atlantic Way to discuss how tourism can promote innovation and enterprise.


Thank you for listening to me and while I cannot stay for the rest of the session, I look forward to reading the outputs from this morning and the ideas you have for the future.