The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) has said that the government's COVID-19 wage subsidy measures, increased unemployment payments and better illness cover are important first steps to help confront the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, but that the tourism industry will require sector-specific support for the rest of the year.
In a COVID-19 bulletin published on its website, ITIC said, "Credit must be given to government for devising their €3.7 billion economic package with such speed, and department officials are striving hard to make sure the measures work for business. Crucially though, the package is scheduled for a 12-week period and the Irish tourism economy - 75% dependent on overseas visitors - will need sector-specific support for the rest of the year with little international visitation to be realistically expected in 2020.
"Furthermore, additional efforts will be needed to support tourism employers as well as employees. Local authority rates remain a burning issue and these represent a significant cost for business. The current policy of a three month deferral is unclear and wholly inadequate to the challenge facing tourism and hospitality companies. As has happened north of the border, there must be a complete rates waiver for the remainder of 2020 if tourism businesses are to survive this crisis. ITIC welcomes government pressure on banks and insurance companies to support business during these troubling times, but much more must be done on this front to ensure financial institutions play their part in supporting industry."
EU State Aid Rules
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ITIC added, "It is worth noting that EU state aid rules enable member states to help companies cope with liquidity shortages. Specifically, Article 107(2)(b) TFEU enables member states to compensate companies for the damage directly caused by exceptional occurrences, including measures in sectors such as aviation and tourism. The Irish government must use all flexibility within EU guidelines to support Ireland's tourism industry, a sector that proudly claimed 20,000 individual businesses prior to COVID-19."
Estimated Cost To Tourism Sector
ITIC estimates that the COVID-19 crisis could cost the Irish tourism sector €3.52 billion this year and that the overseas earnings element of the tourism economy for 2020 could amount to as little as €1.58 billion. In 2019, overseas tourism generated €5.1 billion for the Irish economy.
ITIC stated that when the COVID-19 crisis ends, "A high-level tri-partite taskforce of industry, agencies and department will be needed as a vehicle and mechanism to relaunch Irish tourism and provide jobs, economic growth, and exchequer returns."
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