Following its latest meeting this week, the Tourism Recovery Taskforce has submitted an initial report to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD, which is aimed at helping tourism to survive in the initial reopening period as Ireland emerges from the COVID-19 lockdown period.
The Taskforce is in agreement that if thousands of jobs are not to be lost permanently, action needs to be taken right away to support tourism businesses in the immediate term. Following on from the statement it issued on June 4th, the Taskforce has identified a number of measures which will help to save jobs and businesses across the tourism sector.
Commenting on the Initial Report, The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, said:
I welcome this Initial Report from the Tourism Recovery Taskforce. From the start of the Covid crisis it has been apparent that tourism has been very badly hit. As the sector begins to reopen, it is right that Government considers measures to help restore and maintain as many businesses and jobs in the sector as possible. Of course we need to do this in line with public health guidance but I am confident that we can strike the right balance between continuing to suppress the virus while at the same time helping the tourism sector to survive and recover. Pending the Taskforce finalising its work, this Initial Report is a very useful contribution.
The Minister of State for Tourism, Mr Brendan Griffin TD, said:
I wish to commend the Tourism Recovery Taskforce, and it’s Chair Ms. Ruth Andrews, for this initial report. As the sector prepares to reopen next week, this is a very timely reminder of the challenges it faces. Since Minister Ross and I first engaged with the industry around this crisis back in February, it has been clear that it is a game-changer for tourism. Whatever the next few days brings in political terms, I am determined that the Government will consider these recommendations as a matter of urgency.
Notes for editors:
In submitting its report to the Minister, the Taskforce has prioritised certain actions for Government intervention, as follows:
Tourism Enterprise Survival Supports
• €66m tourism adaptation grant to provide funding to tourism enterprises towards the capital costs associated with adapting their businesses to meet social distancing measures and interventions necessary to ensure visitors feel safe.
• €500m business survival grant scheme to support viable businesses in distress.
• €250m working capital loan scheme to enable tourism businesses to continue to operate in a post Covid-19 environment.
• An extension to the temporary wage subside scheme will be required to April 2021 to support tourism enterprises retain highly skilled experienced staff. A review of the current scheme to incorporate seasonal staff employed annually will also be required.
• A reduction of the 13.5% VAT rate to 5% to December 2021 and return to the 9% VAT rate to sharpen Irish tourism competitiveness and stimulate consumer demand.
• Extension of the waiver of commercial rates for the remainder of 2020.
International Demand Recovery
The Taskforce supports the interim recommendations of the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery and is also calling for:
• Implementation of appropriate test and trace measures as an alternative to the 14 day recommended quarantine to facilitate the restoration of international tourism as soon as possible.
• An initial €32m investment in air access restoration and international marketing of Ireland now that recovery is underway.
• Appropriate incentives to stimulate inbound demand on short haul routes.
Domestic Demand Recovery
• Government leadership and support is urgently required to stimulate domestic tourism demand.
• In addition to a review of the 2m social distancing requirement in all tourism enterprises, a review of the appropriate social distancing measures for functions, events and meetings based on venue size is required as a matter of urgency.