Irish

Thursday 24 July 2014

Varadkar calls for tourism innovation

John Mulligan

Published 19/07/2013|04:00

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Leo Varadkar has supported calls to retain the 9pc VAT rate enjoyed by the hospitality sector

Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar has asked Jobs Minister Richard Bruton to enlist the help of Enterprise Ireland to foster innovation in the tourism sector.

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Mr Varadkar has suggested that Failte Ireland and Enterprise Ireland examine opportunities to encourage and support tourism-related investment.

He has proposed that while there is no need for additional funds to implement the strategy, it could be used to encourage links between suitable enterprises in the "tourism value chain" or between tourism enterprises and those in other sectors where "innovative combined offerings may be possible".

"This may facilitate testing of new products, co-branding or joint-investment by the parties involved," Mr Varadkar told Mr Bruton.

The request follows an examination recently undertaken by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport that studied the factors that influence the ability of the Irish tourism sector to innovate.

Overall, the aim of the proposed strategy would be to boost tourism numbers and emulate similar successful schemes in countries such as New Zealand.

Mr Varadkar said a precedent has already been established to underpin the proposal to see Failte Ireland and Enterprise Ireland working more closely together.

He said a number of State agencies collaborated to deliver the recent Food Entrepreneurs programme that saw Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia and Teagasc work together on the initiative.

Mr Varadkar has also suggested that Enterprise Ireland and Failte Ireland be asked to assess the range of supports they both offer, with a view to identifying any unrealised opportunities for exporting sectors to avail of those supports.

"It may be possible for Enterprise Ireland and Failte Ireland to establish a co-operative arrangement with regard to advising enterprises on the range of supports available across both agencies," he said.

Visitor numbers to Ireland have jumped on the back of the Government's 'Gathering' initiative.

In the three months to May 1, the Central Statistics Office said the number of visitors to Ireland rose 8.1pc to 1.7m compared with the corresponding quarter last year.

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