ITIC Preparing To Submit Tourism Sector Recovery Plan To Government
The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) is preparing to submit a recovery plan to the government with four budget requests to help the tourism sector recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As reported by The Irish Times, ITIC will ask for an extension of wage subsidies for the sector until June of 2022 in October's Budget 2022, and will also seek a doubling of funds for the marketing of Ireland as a holiday destination to foreign tourists, as well as a further extension of the 9% VAT rate for hospitality and tourism, and a cut in employers' PRSI for the sector.
ITIC reportedly also said that the government must restore connectivity because international tourism makes up 75% of the industry.
ITIC Chief Executive Statements
ITIC chief executive Eoghan O'Mara Walsh reportedly said, "The industry is at rock bottom. We would hope to see bookings return to 2019 levels by 2025 or 2026, but that is predicated on a range of pro-tourism and pro-aviation policies from government. The potential gains are large."
O'Mara Walsh reportedly pointed out that the state still has not implemented recommendations from an aviation industry recovery taskforce that called for steep cuts in landing charges at Irish airports to tempt back airlines, and reportedly said, "We need to get tourists into the country before the industry can recover. Domestic tourism will fall off a cliff when schools reopen next week. There will be tumbleweeds rolling through popular Irish tourist towns, while Dublin hotels are at just 23% occupancy for the year to date."
Job Loss Estimate
It is reportedly officially estimated that by the start of summer, the tourism and hospitality industry had lost approximately 100,000 of the 265,000 jobs that it supported before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ryanair Chief Executive Statements
O'Mara Walsh's statement came as Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has said that the Irish aviation and tourism industries are facing "four to five years" of difficulties, and that Ryanair is moving "10-20%" of its Irish capacity to other European countries where aviation is recovering faster.
O'Leary reportedly said that the industry has submitted a recovery plan to Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan that includes measures such as giving airlines rebates on charges, but that the report has "sat on the minister's desk", and that Ryanair has sought discounts on fees to maintain services at Cork Airport, but it has gotten "nothing".
O'Leary reportedly also said, "The real danger is that Ireland will be bypassed. This is a serious point: Ireland is an island on the periphery of Europe. Tourism is being devastated and nothing is being done about it,", and that Ryanair will return to above 75% of pre-COVID-19 passenger numbers this summer, reportedly adding, "It's at lower fares, but we don’t care about that."
Minister For Transport Statements
Minister Ryan reportedly said that the government is determined to help the aviation and tourism sectors recover and to restore Irish connectivity.
Ryan reportedly said that the government has given €300 million in supports such as wage subsidies to the sector, with €150 million in lending supports, and that the supports included €80 million for regional airports, as well as a €50 million package for Dublin and Cork airports operator DAA that could be used to reduce charges.
Ryan reportedly said, "DAA chose not to deploy it until the sector was back up and running. There was no point reducing landing charges with a 90-95% reduction in passenger numbers. Our connectivity is vital because we are an island and we are determined to bring it back."
Ryan reportedly also said, "The tourism and aviation recovery is hard to predict. I hope it won’t take four to five years, but it will take some time."
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