Support for tourism and hospitality sectors urged amid Covid-19 outbreak

Thousands of jobs could be lost “within weeks” in the tourism and hospitality industry unless urgent State support is provided to the sector.

Support for tourism and hospitality sectors urged amid Covid-19 outbreak

Thousands of jobs could be lost “within weeks” in the tourism and hospitality industry unless urgent State support is provided to the sector.

The ‘doomsday’ prediction came from Tourism Minister Shane Ross, who met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe in recent days to request immediate support measures for businesses “whose very existence is threatened”.

“Businesses in the tourism, hospitality, and leisure sectors have gone from concern to alarm to panic,” said Mr Ross.

It is absolutely essential that we, as a Government, over the coming days, respond robustly and do whatever we can to save as many businesses and jobs as we can.

"Without some immediate response, the industry estimates that thousands of jobs could be lost within weeks. This is a desperate situation,” he said.

The warning came as Revenue outlined a suite of measures around issues such as Vat returns and tax clearance certificates. It also published advice for SMEs which may be experiencing cash flow and trading difficulties as a result of the coronavirus.

Mr Ross’s view has been echoed by Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly, who described the impact of the coronavirus on the tourism industry as “catastrophic”.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, he said: “Revenue into the industry has all but stopped and it is looking that way for the next couple of months at a time of year when cash flow is difficult. This is a huge impact in the industry over the next couple of months.”

Mr Kelly said supports are needed “within a matter of days” to prevent businesses from closing: “Everything is on the table. There is a sense that was conveyed to us by Government that they don’t want to make it any harder on businesses than it already is.”

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Restaurants Association of Ireland CEO Adrian Cummins said the measures announced by Revenue “don’t go a fraction of the way towards helping businesses” — particularly those in the tourism and hospitality sectors. “Currently, thousands of workers are being laid off as we speak.

“A specific aid package for the tourism and hospitality sector needs to be in place by Monday morning,” he said.

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