Transport, Tourism & Sport Minister Leo Varadkar has confirmed today that he has opened discussions with airlines over abolishing the €3 travel tax, as part of a deal to re-open closed airline routes and bring more tourists into the country.
Minister Varadkar, who was addressing the AGM of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, also said the Government is hoping to make it easier for tourists from rapidly growing economies to visit Ireland.
“With many overseas markets showing signs of recovery as well as a shift in the perception of Ireland as a good value destination, I believe we are moving into more favourable conditions. Numbers coming through our ports and airports are stabilising and starting to grow again, as is occupancy in our hotels,” Mr Varadkar said.
“However, while economic prospects look brighter in some areas in much of Europe and North America there is still uncertainty, and we are still looking at levels of access far below what they were only a couple of years ago.
“It is in that context that the Government has undertaken to abolish the €3 air travel tax – if a deal can be agreed with carriers to re-open closed routes from our source markets and bring more tourists into Ireland. I am already talking to the airlines about how they might respond.
“With the world’s media focusing on Ireland, even for only a brief period, we can extend our focus to new markets throughout the world. I am therefore pursuing with my colleague Minister Alan Shatter the Government commitment to look at making our visa regime more attractive to visitors from such markets.
“The Government is absolutely committed to restoring Ireland’s reputation around the world. The various State agencies, tourism agencies, and Departments are working together in each of our key markets to produce and deliver coordinated strategies. Our embassies are actively placing key messages in media outlets as well as engaging directly with key opinion formers.
“After our experience with the burst property bubble, it’s important to remember there are no ‘magic bullets’ or free lunches. Rebuilding the Irish economy will come from the hard slog of offering goods and services that international markets find attractive and competitive, and going out to sell them to the world.”