Tourism chiefs seek massive rescue package

Tourism chiefs seek massive rescue package

Tourism bosses have called for a wider government rescue package than the €4bn in income support measures; and want businesses in their industry to receive the bulk of it.

Industry representative body the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) said the Government is not doing enough to protect employers, warning that the tourism industry here is “on the brink” and could see job losses top 200,000 in the near-term if action is not taken.

Latest CSO figures showed 265,000 people working directly and indirectly in Ireland’s tourism industry. However, an estimated 150,000 people have lost their jobs during this crisis.

Leading hospitality organisations including Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and the Restaurant Association of Ireland have been meeting Government, led by ITIC.

Ireland’s tourism industry is worth around €9bn, with 75% of its economy reliant on in-bound travel. ITIC said very little of that will be seen this year and even if Covid-19 disappeared immediately, it would be into 2021 before the start of a recovery would be seen. It said the virus presents “shattering economic implications” to the industry.

The organisations want a multi-billion euro package to support tourism businesses, with that package including a job retention scheme, interest-free loans, debt forbearance, and business continuity grants.

ITIC chief executive Eoghan O’Mara-Walsh said Ireland is currently way behind Germany, France and the UK in terms of its economic response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Our Government needs to get very serious very quickly about the business impact of Covid-19 and borrow big, as other European nations are doing, to stabilise the economy. It is time for Government to agree to spend to protect the economy and the Irish tourism and hospitality industry has to get its fair share,” he said.

ITIC has put to Government a three-step plan “to save Irish tourism”. 

Covering business survival, liquidity measures and stimulation of demand; it calls for a waiving of local authority rates, interest-free loans from the main banks and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, State-guaranteed working capital and business continuity loans and insurer commitment to the provision of business interruption cover. 

It also calls for financial support for the cancellation of large events as a result of Covid-19.

In order to stimulate demand, ITIC wants the tourism Vat rate to be set at 0% for the duration of the outbreak crisis and then set at 9% on a permanent basis once recovery has set in. A doubling of investment in overseas marketing is also warranted, it said, while domestic marketing should also be increased to drive home holidays.

It has also lobbied for support for airlines to allow them maintain and renew key routes.

“Good tourism businesses and excellent tourism people risk getting dragged under by this tsunami,” said ITIC chairperson Ruth Andrews, “and Government must do much more to protect companies and help keep them in business.”

ITIC also wants a directive to insurance companies that Government advice to the public to avoid pubs, and restaurants is enough for businesses to claim on their insurance where they have appropriate interruption cover in place.

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