Irish tourism sector seeks €1.5bn to aid industry survival

Ireland’s tourism industry has put out a call for a suite of support measures including €1.5bn in grant aid and low-cost loans.

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) said that Covid-19 has “decimated the industry swiftly and mercilessly.”

ITIC has issued a 3-step plan for tourism’s recovery based around business survival, liquidity measures and demand stimulation.

“The country’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer needs unprecedented Government intervention now if it is to survive this crisis”

The body said that Ireland’s tourism industry is the country’s largest indigenous industry and regional employer employing 265,000 people and worth over €9bn. Some €2bn of this was returned to the Exchequer in direct tourism-related taxes.

The body said that carriers, hotels and accommodation providers, restaurants, attractions, hospitality businesses, tour operators, adventure and activity firms, and transport providers are facing a bleak year with an empty pipeline and order book.

5-year intervention called for

Among the key policies being put forward by ITIC is the creation of an immediate €1bn fund for business continuity grants for tourism and hospitality enterprises and SME specific support for businesses that have seen their turnover significantly impacted by Covid-19.

Enhanced liquidity measures suggested include State-backed long-term low interest loans to provide around €500m funding to the sector to enable as many businesses to reopen as possible once the pandemic crisis passes.

It also recommends changing the reduced VAT rate to 5pc as well as seeking an Exchequer funding increase for annual tourism services from €186m per annum to €300m to invest in supports such as marketing, international promotions and product development.

“Covid-19 will pass. Hopefully in 2020 or 2021 a vaccination will be developed and distributed widely,” the ITIC said in a statement.

“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,” the ITIC said.

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 1 May, 2020