Week’s events: Grangegorman DIT, Tourism Ireland Autumn Campaign, Irish Hotel Federation & FG think-in

12th September, 2014

After what has been many long years in the making, this week saw Grangegorman DIT open its doors to the first tranche of 1,000 students. I went along on Tuesday with the Tánaiste, among others, to have a look around the beautifully refurbished, listed buildings that will house the students who are beginning their studies there. Bringing the 39 DIT campuses together on one site will not only have a unifying effect on the largest higher education institute in the State, it will also transform the surrounding north inner city of Dublin. The fact too that a local employment charter is in place to ensure a portion of the work carried out goes to local suppliers and tradespeople, gives local communities a sense of ownership of this much awaited project, now and as it develops into the future.


This week also saw the launch of the Tourism Ireland Autumn Campaign, the aim of which is to encourage tourist to continue to visit Ireland outside of the traditional summer months.  The €11 million campaign will target potential markets as far away as India and China, through a range of media, with a particular focus on  on the ‘culturally curious’ and those with an interest in some of our festivals, such as the Wexford Festival Opera, the Cork Jazz Festival and the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival. In a week when the Tourism and Travel Quarter 2 statistics from the CSO told us that the number of trips to Ireland from holidaymakers rose by 7.8% and that revenue from overseas visitors is up 8.8% to more than €1.5 billion in the first six months of the year, the contribution tourism is making to our economic recovery is evident. It is up to us now to ensure we continue to offer a value for money product that encourages people to pay us a visit.


I also met with members the Irish Hotel Federation from every part of Ireland this week to introduce myself and to listen to what they had to say. While there was broad recognition that things had improved dramatically since a number of Government initiatives, such as the 9% VAT rate and the Wild Atlantic Way, had been introduced, there was a feeling in some quarters that the recovery is not being felt as strongly in some parts of the country as it is in others. That is something we, as a Government, have to give consideration to.


On Thursday and Friday, I was in Cork for the Fine Gael Party think-in, the focus of which was on sustaining the recovery into the future. As we approach the Budget there is a lot of speculation about what lies ahead. As the Taoiseach said, no decisions have been made at this point. What is certain, however, is that any measures being introduced will have job creation at their core. Getting people back to work and creating an Ireland in which our emigrants feel they have something to come home for are key priories for this Government. As the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I will be working hard to deliver that end within my portfolio.


This week I was out meeting the people of Stoneybatter on a number of occasions, listening to what they had to say and offering solutions where I could. Looking forward to the Dáil reconvening next week and to attending our Parliament in my new role.