The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) and the Restaurants Association of Ireland have said that they are disappointed by the lack of a dedicated government department with sole responsibility for tourism.
IHF president Elaina Fitzgerald Kane stated, "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.
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"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."
The IHF is calling on the government to implement the following measures as a matter of urgency:
- the continuation of the Wage Subsidy Scheme until the impact of COVID-19 restrictions has fully abated, and the inclusion of seasonal employees in the scheme;
- the linking of the size of gatherings to venue capacity;
- a reduction in tourism VAT to 5% until December 2021 followed by a permanent restoration to 9% to assist recovery and secure a future for tourism;
- liquidity measures tailored to the specific challenges facing tourism to help businesses survive and restart;
- and an extension of the three-month waiver period for local authority rates and charges to coincide with business interruption due to COVID-19 and for a minimum of 12 months, after which the IHF says the payment of local authority rates should be based on reduced levels of activity due to the crisis.
Meanwhile, Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) CEO Adrian Cummins issued a statement saying, "The Restaurants Association of Ireland expressed significant disappointment that tourism had not been included within an economic portfolio. The Restaurants Association of Ireland is extremely disappointed that an industry such as tourism that employs 265,000 people and contributes €9 billion to the economy has not been included within an economic ministry by the new government.
"The programme for government is very clear; tourism is one of Ireland's most important economic sectors, and the government recognises its significance as a source of local employment and regional development. COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on tourism, and the government will, as a matter of urgency, set out how we will support the sector through the remainder of 2020.
"We expect the new government to deliver on its commitment to our sector in the programme for government in the July economic stimulus.
"The restaurant and tourism Industry has been hit hardest by COVID-19, and the impact on our sector has had a decimating impact on every restaurant business across Ireland. The industry requires urgent, immediate and continued economic assistance, hence to not be included within an economic or business portfolio is very disappointing."
Cummins added that he wishes Catherine Martin TD well in her role as cabinet minister for media, arts, culture, tourism, sport and the gaeltacht, and said "We have sought an urgent meeting with minister Martin to discuss the July stimulus package needed to deliver for restaurants and tourism as per the programme for government. As the representative body for restaurants, cafés and gastropubs, with over 3000 members, the Restaurants Association of Ireland eagerly awaits the opportunity to work with you over the coming months to rebuild and stabilise the Irish restaurant sector. We have recommendations to resolve the very real concerns facing the food tourism sector, which is a vital component of the wider tourism and hospitality offering in Ireland."
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