Ministers Announce Details Of Budget 2023 For Tourism And Transport

By Dave Simpson
Ministers Announce Details Of Budget 2023 For Tourism And Transport

Minister Catherine Martin TD and Minister of State Jack Chambers TD have announced details of €1,142 million in gross funding allocated to the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in Budget 2023.

These new funding streams and measures run in parallel and addition to the wider, all-of-society cost-of-living support measures announced by the government in Budget 2023. Separately, the government has announced a package of horizontal supports, helping citizens, practitioners, organisations and groups manage the current cost-of-living increases.


The department’s tourism services programme aims to support the industry to recover and grow in a sustainable way.

  • Budget 2023 has secured continued additional funding of €15 million for overseas marketing of Ireland as a leading holiday destination and the development of the Invitation project.
  • Domestically, continued additional funding of €15 million will deliver a range of measures to support the sector, including domestic marketing, transforming the digital capabilities of tourism businesses, boosting the industry’s recruitment and retention efforts, sustainable tourism initiatives, long-term investment in the US College Football Classic series, and the establishment of a register of short-term letting properties as part of the government’s Housing for All reforms.


Arts And Culture

The department’s arts and culture programme aims to promote and develop Ireland’s artistic and creative strengths at home and abroad, maximising their societal and economic value for the country, and supporting the arts, culture and creative sectors to continue to develop and expand.


  • The retention of a record €130 million in funding for the Arts Council in 2023, in recognition of the transformational impact of this funding, and to support artists and arts organisations as the department looks to further develop the sector.
  • An additional €10 million in 2023 to fund the Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme, a three-year, €105 million initiative involving 2,000 artists and creative arts workers, which will support each beneficiary in developing and sustaining a professional arts practice.
  • A €2 million increase in funding for Culture Ireland, for the promotion of Irish arts worldwide.
  • Some €7 million in additional capital funding for artists’ spaces and climate adaptation, including a new scheme (details of which will be announced shortly).
  • An additional €2.5 million will help ensure that the National Cultural Institutions continue to provide high-quality programming, to promote learning and engagement opportunities, and to safeguard the National Collections.
  • Up to €500,000 for supports for artists and arts workers put in place by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in partnership with the Irish Theatre Institute (ITI) and others, as part of the ‘Safe to Create’ programme, coordinated by the ITI. This responds to concerns about harassment and inequality in the sector, as found in the Speak Up  report.
  • The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media will also explore options for up to €2 million in capital supports for stakeholders in the night-time economy, in the context of the implementation of the Report of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce. This is in addition to €4 million in current spending for a range of initiatives and pilot projects to support a more vibrant and diverse night-time economy.
  • Some €1 million extra for Screen Ireland, for the continued implementation of the government’s ten-year Audiovisual Action Plan. This is in addition to a decision by the government to extend a key tax incentive for the film industry, Section 481, to 2028.
  • An allocation of €3 million to develop, oversee and manage a new archive and exhibition space as part of the overall National Centre for Research and Remembrance. This is a significant and unprecedented project of national and international importance, which is being developed in partnership with a number of agencies over the coming years, including the National Archives and the National Museum of Ireland.








Additionally, in a statement published on Gov.ie, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton TD welcomed the overall allocation of €3.51 billion next year for the Department of Transport.

According to the statement published on Gov.ie, Budget 2023 will make the following possible:

Cheaper Fares

  • Retention of the 20% average fare discount on public transport fares throughout 2023.
  • Continuation of the Young Adult Card, including the expansion to 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds in third-level education, so that they can also avail of half-price public transport fares.

New Public Transport Fleet

  • Some 41 new intercity railcars, boosting peak capacity across intercity services nationally by 34%.
  • Some 91 new double-deck and 30 single-deck electric vehicles for PSO fleets across the country.

Rail Enhancement

  • Construction to start on the new DART station at Woodbrook, on the south-eastern line.
  • Continue to protect and renew the heavy-rail network in a ‘steady state’ condition and enhance journey safety, comfort and reliability for passengers.
  • Continued fit-out of the National Train Control Centre and recommissioning works at Kishoge station.
  • MetroLink will progress to the phase-four statutory process with client partner.


  • Expanded and enhanced bus services through BusConnects, including the roll-out of the BusConnects network redesign in Dublin.
  • Next-generation ticketing under the BusConnects programme will progress to the contract award stage.
  • Final planning applications to go An Bord Pleanála for the Dublin BusConnects core bus corridors, and construction procurement for four corridors will get under way.
  • Construction work on the Clongriffin corridor will start by late 2023.

Regional Development

  • Continued roll-out of new and enhanced bus routes through BusConnects and Connecting Ireland.
  • Construction of phase one of the Cork Area Commuter Rail programme – a railway order will be sought for double tracking of the line between Midleton and Glounthaune.
  • Finalise the emerging preferred route for the Cork light rail transit and carry out a first round of public consultation on the proposals.
  • Planning and design will progress on the preferred routes for the sustainable transport corridors for BusConnects Cork, with a second round of public consultation.
  • The redevelopment of the Ceannt and Oranmore stations in Galway will continue.
  • The North Quays redevelopment project in Waterford will start construction in 2023, with the Department of Transport supporting the construction of a new pedestrian bridge across the River Suir.

Walking And Cycling

  • Nearly €1 million per day will be invested in walking and cycling projects, with a government commitment of €360 million per year in active travel nationwide, including €60 million for greenways.

Electric Vehicle-Charging Roll-Out

  • Continued funding to support the transition to electric vehicles (EV), including €110 million for EV grants and charging infrastructure, which includes €8 million in Shared Island funding.


  • In recognition of the importance of regional airports to supporting connectivity to the regions and enhancing balanced regional development, the government has sustained the high level supports to regional airports since the onset of Covid-19 and throughout the recovery that the aviation sector experienced this year, with a total package of almost €36 million announced in Budget 2023.
  • Funding of €30 million will be provided in 2023 to support regional airports through the Regional Airports Programme (RAP) 2021-2025. This programme will deliver €16 million in current funding and €14 million in capital funding, which will support the regional airports of Shannon, Ireland West, Donegal and Kerry.
  • The RAP provides targeted funding through a number of capital and operational grant schemes for safety- and security-related projects and activities. This investment in regional airports will ensure airport compliance with EU safety- and security-related obligations.
  • In addition – as was the case in the previous two years – funding will also support projects that have a sustainability focus, facilitating the sustainable growth of the sector.
  • This programme also funds Exchequer-funded public service obligation air services between Donegal and Dublin.
  • In addition, and in recognition of the important role of Cork Airport to the economy of the south region and nationally, capital funding of €6 million will be provided to Cork Airport in 2023. This funding will support the commencement of a significant security screening project at Cork Airport next year. This funding is consistent with the Programme for Government action to deliver capital programmes required to support services and ensure safety at our state and regional airports.

Maritime Transport And Safety

  • Some €109 million will be allocated in 2023 to maritime transport and safety, as well as ongoing support to the Irish Coast Guard. In respect of the latter, funding will provide enhanced building and IT programmes, as well as investment in the SAR service, including training and equipment. In terms of maritime safety, it will provide support for the Commissioners of Irish Lights, navigation aids and safety equipment, as well as the commencement of a Marine Accident Investigation Unit.


Minister Martin said, “Cost-of-living increases are putting additional pressures on the sectors overseen by my department, in common with wider society. These sectors are emerging from the extraordinarily challenging Covid-19 crisis in a relatively stable condition, given the extent of Covid-specific government supports throughout. The government has now responded strongly to the fresh pressures brought by increasing energy costs and inflation.

“In that context, Budget 2023 brings a wide range of exciting and important new initiatives, supporting further growth and development with the important sectors of tourism, arts and culture, Gaeltacht, sport and media. Government is committed to strengthening the media sector, which plays such a vital role in our democracy and wider society. This budget marks a significant step in government’s commitment to the sector, following the publication of the Future of Media Commission report in July. The allocations being announced today lay the foundation for an expanded regulatory and support framework for a sector which has undergone profound change in recent years. To complement the changes in the VAT rates applied to newspapers and news periodicals in printed and digital formats announced by Minister Donohoe, the new Media Fund will enable direct support to the sector, regardless of the platform, to enable the continued provision to the Irish people of high-quality, trusted public service media content. The largest-ever increase in funding to TG4 not only underpins government’s commitment to delivering on the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030, but is a further boost to the Irish-language creative sector. This increase will also enable TG4 to launch a new dedicated children’s channel, Cúla4, which builds on the success of existing Cúla4 programming, BLOC and Molscéal. This new channel will include a children’s news service, entertainment and education content, drama, [and] Irish animation, and will reflect the diverse backgrounds of children living in all parts of Ireland, but particularly in Gaeltacht and Irish-speaking communities.


“We continue to invest in the development of the arts and artists, with the record €130 million annual funding for the Arts Council now in place for the third year running and new funding streams to support artists’ studios and spaces among a wide range of measures [...] and our important tourism industry will see €15 million continued additional funding for Fáilte Ireland initiatives, including support for domestic festivals and marketing, digital transformation, US college football [...] and sustainable tourism actions, with a further €15 million allocated to marketing Ireland overseas as a destination, and the development of the Invitation project.

“In relation to the current cost-of-living challenges, the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme announced yesterday will support those businesses in my sectors – mainly in the tourism sector – dealing with the impact of increased natural-gas and electricity costs.

“I will also work with my government colleagues and sectors in relation to the €60 million support provided in 2022 for the impact of increased energy bills on the not-for-profit and voluntary organisations in a number of sectors, including the sectors under my aegis.”

Minister Chambers said, “Budget 2023 brings a number of important new initiatives and programmes, which will help grow participation in sport and physical activity, as well as building further on the engagement people enjoy when they partake in, or watch, the sports they love. We are allocating funds to Sport Ireland, to continue the support for elite athletes as they prepare for the Olympics and Paralympics in Paris in 2024, on the back of phenomenal recent success at the highest level across a range of sports. We are establishing a dedicated coaching fund for national governing bodies of sport, to support coaches and to ensure our best and brightest talents have the expertise they need to achieve their full potential. The funding increase will also deliver on the other key actions set out in the Sports Action Plan 2021-2023, including the further roll-out of ‘Sport for All’ initiatives, so there are increased opportunities to play and participate for all people, regardless of age, ability or background. In addition, €35 million is being allocated to sports clubs and organisations to help them meet energy costs this winter. This special fund will help clubs with the cost of floodlights, [and] heating gyms and sports halls, as well as other energy costs, which I know will be of enormous benefit to the entire sporting system.

“There is also additional funding of €8.5 million for Irish-language and Gaeltacht programmes in the year ahead, as well as a new digital plan for the Irish language and a strategy for the language-based arts. Language-related social-inclusion measures will be expanded, with additional funding of €2.5 million for Gaeltacht support schemes, which will be used primarily to support the Irish summer colleges sector and expand social-inclusion measures, allowing students from DEIS schools to visit the Gaeltacht. In addition, increased funding is being made available for TG4, which will help consolidate the use of Irish as a community language in Gaeltacht areas, and indeed its use across Ireland as a whole. Seen alongside the government’s historic cost-of-living supports package announced yesterday, which will also support the Gaeltacht regions, Budget 2023 represents a measured and targeted approach to supporting our important sectors over the coming year.”


The aforementioned statement published on Gov.ie, about the overall allocation of €3.51 billion next year for the Department of Transport, quoted Minister Ryan as saying, “Retaining the 20% discount on public transport fares was a key priority for me because it provides immediate and everyday savings to hard-pressed commuters and citizens. The expansion of the Youth Leap Card also means that public transport will now be cheaper for more young people.

“We made big strides in 2022, with BusConnects, DART+ and MetroLink all entering the planning system, and I am confident that these projects will continue to progress at pace through next year. I am particularly pleased that procurement is expected to commence for four key BusConnects Dublin core bus corridors, with the first corridor – Clongriffin to Fairview – earmarked to enter construction before the end of 2023. I am also pleased to see progress on the Cork Area Commuter Rail programme, BusConnects Cork, and redevelopment works at [the] Ceannt and Oranmore stations in Galway.

“Throughout 2023, I will be working hard to ensure that we expand the coverage and frequency of our public transport network, during the day and also at night, with a particular focus on greatly improving our rural transport connectivity. I have already been in touch with all local authorities across the country to ask them to identify their Pathfinder projects in public transport and active travel. The budget allocated for 2023 means that these programmes can be delivered at speed.

“Transport is key to Ireland’s future development and sustainability – both to ensure that we can get around easily, cost-effectively, and safely, but also to ensure that we meet our emissions targets by 2030 and beyond. Overall, I am delighted that Budget ’23 maintains the Programme for Government commitment to deliver a 2:1 ratio of expenditure between new public transport infrastructure and new roads.”

The aforementioned statement published on Gov.ie, about the overall allocation of €3.51 billion next year for the Department of Transport, also quoted Minister Naughton as saying, “The regional airports funding of almost €36 million demonstrates our ongoing commitment to supporting connectivity to the regions and enhancing balanced regional development as we continue to adapt to the world after the Covid-19 pandemic. The Regional Airports Programme will support Shannon, Ireland West, Donegal and Kerry Airports, and the PSO service between Donegal and Dublin. Included, and in recognition of the important role of Cork Airport to the economy of the south region and nationally, capital funding of €6 million will be provided to Cork Airport in 2023.

“We will earmark almost €1 billion in protection and renewal of the road network, and an additional €400 million in the construction of national and regional and local roads.

“Investing in and protecting our children’s daily journeys and encouraging the take-up of walking, cycling and scooting to school is a project I am committed to delivering. I am delighted to confirm that the Safe Routes to School programme will continue to be funded into 2023. This forms part of this government’s commitment to active travel, and in 2023 we will continue to invest almost €1 million per day in walking and cycling projects across the country.

“I am particularly pleased to have secured funding for research into how to encourage more women – particularly girls and adolescents – to choose cycling as a mode of regular transport, so that we can instil long-term habits that will benefit not just our environment, but also the health and well-being of the women of tomorrow.

“The haulage and logistics sector is one which has ensured that our supermarket shelves remained stocked, and our pharmacies were equipped with medicines and other key products continued to be available for families, communities and businesses across the country. They did so flawlessly, as Ireland navigated the turbulent waters of Brexit and Covid-19. Earlier this year, government put in place a significant support package for the haulage sector, to help meet the increased costs of doing business, and I hope to be in a position to announce further supports for our hauliers in the coming weeks.”

IHF Reaction

Additionally, the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) noted that hotels and guesthouses across the country have broadly welcomed the energy supports for businesses announced in Budget 2023, but the organisation is seeking an amendment to criteria to ensure that significant tourism employers can receive appropriate supports in the face of skyrocketing business costs and a deteriorating economic environment.

The IHF added that it will continue to advocate for the retention of the 9% VAT rate beyond February 2023, as it is a critical measure to ensure the long-term sustainable growth of Ireland’s largest indigenous export industry. IHF president Denyse Campbell said that while elements of the Budget will help hoteliers, the sector feels that the government has missed an opportunity to continue support for employment recovery and growth in tourism.

Campbell stated, “The Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme – TBESS – is broadly welcome for hoteliers that have been hit by shocking energy price increases of over 400% in electricity and 300% in gas prices since 2019, in addition to a severe rise in day-to-day operational costs, such as linen – 29% – food – 22% – and beverages – 12% – in the last 12 months. However, we are seeking an amendment to criteria for significant employers, so that they can receive appropriate supports.”

Campbell said that the tourism sector will be disappointed with the government’s decision to increase the 9% tourism VAT rate by 50% from 1 March next year, and that the government has not fully recognised the importance of the tourism industry to every town and every county in Ireland.

Campbell concluded, “This increase will make Ireland’s tourism VAT rate the second highest in the European Union, and far above other European countries where tourism is a significant part of their economies, such as Portugal (6% tourism VAT), Türkiye (8%) and Malta (7%).

“Hoteliers and the tourism industry believe that 9% is the right VAT rate for long-term sustainable growth. Our industry has made great progress on restoring over 230,000 tourism jobs since the depths of the pandemic. We will continue to advocate for the retention of the 9% VAT rate beyond March 2023 and make the case for a labour-intensive industry that employs people in all parts of Ireland, including 70% outside Dublin.”

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