Holiday boost for southwest

FALCON/JWT are to be commended for committing themselves to a major investment in the southwest.

Cork and Shannon airports will benefit from the positioning of an 180-seater LTE Airbus at Cork from May to October next to service the holiday package market. Of course, the real beneficiaries of this will be the public, who can be virtually guaranteed that delays will be significantly cut, if not eradicated.

The aircraft will service the popular holiday destinations of Spain, the Balearic and Canary Islands, the Algarve and the Greek islands, providing a significant boost to the economy.

"I think this underlines our commitment in Falcon and JWT to the Cork and Shannon regions," said managing director Damien Mooney.

The development was welcomed by Aer Rianta Cork marketing manager John Smith: "It is the first time a foreign aircraft will be based in the airport and it is a significant development. It adds an international dimension to the growing list of airlines serving Cork and the southwest in general."

Because the aircraft will be based in Cork, Falcon/JWT can now add direct flights to Menorca, Costa del Sol and the Costa Almerie, while new destinations include Fuerteventura and Crete.

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), representing almost 1,000 hotels and guesthouses nationwide, is hopping mad at some of the measures announced in the recent budget. Welcome to the club, ladies and gentlemen!

The IHF stated that the reduction in the Capital Allowance write-off for hotels from seven years to 25 years will virtually end the development of new hotels in Ireland and will be a major disincentive for existing hotels to upgrade.

This, says the IHF, will result in a deteriorating hotel product, which in the long term will do serious harm to the tourism industry.

The IHF is calling on the minister to review this measure before submitting the Finance Bill.

The federation also expressed disappointment at the increase in VAT from 12.5% to 13.5%, which it says will also further erode Ireland's competitiveness. The increase now places Ireland with the second highest VAT rate in the eurozone, with other European countries having almost half the VAT rate for accommodation with Spain at 7%, France 5.5% and Portugal 5%. IHF president Jim Murphy remarked: "The cost of doing business in Ireland is already extremely high and this will now be increased with the rise in VAT."

Unaware that the Government would slap on a post-budget hike in car tax, the IHF welcomed the additional 209 million, which the Minister for Finance allocated towards national roads infrastructure and the extra 5 million allocated to further tourism marketing activities in the recent estimates. "This additional funding is encouraging and is a positive step in improving access for tourists and citizens alike," concluded Murphy.

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