Sinn Féin have proposed an almost €1bn economic stimulus plan for the tourism and hospitality sectors.
Under this scheme, every adult in the State, no matter their income, would receive a voucher worth €200, while every child would be entitled to a voucher worth €100, to be spent in businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors across Ireland until the end of 2021.
Funded through borrowing, and amounting to over €860 million, Sinn Féin say this model, which has already been rolled out in Malaysia, Iceland and Italy, in various forms, would revive the two sectors hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although the scheme would be considered a form of state-aid, there would be a restriction on overspend to individual businesses by a business register managed by Fáilte Ireland, which is similar to the Icelandic model.
However, in Iceland the vouchers for citizens only amount to €33 each.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Sport Darren O'Rourke says urgent government intervention is required to save jobs and businesses.
“Tourism is the State’s largest indigenous industry, employing 265,000 people, with 68% of these jobs outside of Dublin," he said.
“Around 92% of workers in the accommodation and food sectors have received the Pandemic Unemployment Payment or have been on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, while the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation is estimating a hit to the sector in the region of €3.5 billion in 2020.
With restrictions on travel to the State remaining in place, Sinn Féin believes a substantial economic stimulus is urgently needed to revive these sectors. That is what we are proposing today.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty added: "It would be paid through the Exchequer and would be drawn on the borrowing through the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and the facilities that we have at this point in time, the reason you stimulate a sector is to grow the sector and take people out of unemployment.
“As well as supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs, this plan will give workers and families the welcome option of a break away or days out after what has been an extraordinarily difficult period.
“Similar stimulus plans have been introduced around the world. Italy has a similar plan to encourage people to holiday at home, Vienna is giving residents vouchers for restaurants in the city and the United States is distributing billions of dollars in stimulus cheques directly to residents.
“This would be non-means tested and available to every resident in the State. That means it will assist those unable to afford a break, but also encourage those who can to spend their vouchers, plus more, in our local economies.
“This is an investment in jobs and businesses. Without intervention now, thousands of jobs will be lost permanently, costing the State considerably more in the long-run.”