The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) has issued a plan for the Irish tourism industry's recovery based around business survival, liquidity measures and demand stimulation.
ITIC stated that the Irish tourism industry employed 265,000 people last year and was worth over €9 billion, with over €2 billion being returned to the exchequer in direct tourism related taxes, but the COVID-19 crisis has decimated the industry swiftly and mercilessly, and, consequently, the Programme for Government, and the associated National Recovery Plan, currently being negotiated by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, smaller parties and independents must have a suite of measures to support and sustain Ireland's tourism industry.
According to ITIC, the only way of minimising tourism industry job losses and business closures is immediate and ambitious government intervention over a five year period to protect the industry from the ravaging effects of COVID-19.
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ITIC has identified nine key policies that it says need to be part of the National Recovery Plan within a five year Programme for Government. The nine policies are as follows:
- an immediate €1 billion fund in business continuity grants for tourism and hospitality enterprises during the period of closure and semi-closure for public-health reasons to help them survive the impact of the COVID-19 crisis;
- SME specific support for businesses that have seen their turnover significantly impacted by the crisis, along with the extension of the wage subsidy scheme and the waiving of any state-imposed costs including local authority rates and commercial water charges;
- enhanced liquidity measures including state backed long-term low interest loans to provide circa €500 million in funding to the tourism and hospitality sector to enable as many businesses to reopen as possible once the crisis passes;
- the creation of a dedicated Department of Tourism headed by a minister with significant economic clout and influence;
- the changing of the second reduced VAT rate to 5% and the inclusion of tourism services for the duration of the next government, and the introduction of a supportive tax regime including favourable employer payroll rates;
- an increase in Exchequer funding for annual tourism services;
- the creation of an air access development fund to support and renew airline routes and capacity into Ireland;
- the activation of a household staycation voucher to be redeemed against a home holiday to stimulate the domestic market;
- and the initiation of a Tripartite Tourism Recovery Taskforce consisting of an equal partnership between industry, department and agencies under an independent chairperson.
Risk Of "Permanent Damage To Irish Tourism"
ITIC stated, "COVID-19 will pass. Hopefully in 2020 or 2021, a vaccination will be developed and distributed widely. However, the damage and carnage in its wake risks leaving permanent damage to Irish tourism. The country's largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer needs unprecedented government intervention now if it is to survive this crisis. Tourism is critical to the social fabric of Irish society and is vital to the vibrancy of communities both rural and urban.
"Irish tourism has proven time and again to be a creator of jobs, livelihoods and exchequer returns. And it can and will rise again, but only if the incoming government supports the industry at this critical time."
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