• Cyril McAree

Hoteliers Disappointed With Government's Lack Of Tourism Focus

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has expressed its deep disappointment at the lack of a dedicated government department with sole responsibility for tourism, Ireland’s largest indigenous employer.

IHF President Elaina Fitzgerald Kane called on the Government to put tourism at the top of its economic agenda, stating “we are shocked and deeply disappointed that tourism has been placed in a six- faceted portfolio and not part of an economic and dedicated tourism ministry. We would have expected tourism to have been included at least within an economic or business portfolio or had its own ministry, instead of being part of a multifaceted portfolio. This is a time when commitment to tourism should have been strengthened and not diluted.”

“Our industry is in the midst of a devastating economic crisis, and it is essential that everything possible is done to address the severe challenges we face and safeguard the livelihoods of the almost 270,000 people whose jobs are supported by tourism. 70% of these jobs are based outside of Dublin so the regional economic and social impact is enormous. This requires an urgent policy response and we are committed to working closely with the incoming Government and Minister Catherine Martin to ensure tourism is not left behind.”

Ms. Fitzgerald Kane noted: “In the aftermath of the last recession, tourism created 90,000 new jobs so with the right supports, tourism has a very important role to play in rebuilding Ireland after Covid-19.”

Five Urgent Measures Immediately Required - the IHF is calling on the Government to implement the following measures as a matter of urgency:

1. Continuation of the Wage Subsidy Scheme and inclusion of seasonal employees. The scheme should be extended to include seasonal employees as well as take account of employees previously on reduced hours due to seasonality. The scheme should be continued until the impact of Covid-19 restrictions has fully abated.

2. Gatherings – the size of gatherings should be linked to venue capacity as opposed to an arbitrary cap on numbers. Greater clarity is now urgently required for gatherings beyond July. 

3. A reduction in tourism VAT to 5% until December 2021 followed by a permanent restoration to 9% to assist recovery and secure a viable and sustainable future for tourism. International competitiveness is an urgent issue with Irish hotel VAT now higher than 28 European countries with which we compete.

4. Liquidity measures tailored to the specific challenges facing tourism to help businesses survive and restart: i) significantly increase grants to assist tourism businesses reopen and survive; ii) 0% interest on Government guaranteed finance; iii) a Government supported scheme for deferral of capital and interest payments for a period of one year.

5. Local Authority rates and charges – the three-month waiver period should be extended for tourism businesses to coincide with business interruption due to Covid-19 and for a minimum of 12 months. After that, payment of local authority rates should be based on reduced levels of activity due to the crisis.

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