The Recovery Oversight Group today presented its first report to the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD. The Minister appointed the Recovery Oversight Group in December to oversee the implementation of the Tourism Recovery Plan and also to monitor the sector’s recovery from the Covid pandemic. The creation of the Group was a key recommendation in the Recovery Plan which was submitted to the Minister by the Tourism Recovery Taskforce in September.
In its initial meetings, the Oversight Group’s discussions have focused primarily on the ongoing survival phase of the pandemic for tourism but with an eye on preparing for the recovery. The Group welcomed the progress made to date in implementing the Recovery Plan and noted that the support measures introduced, together with measures introduced as part of the Government’s July Stimulus package earlier in the year, have been hugely beneficial in helping business to survive and retaining jobs in the tourism sector. The Report presented to the Minister outlines the areas of focus which, given the evolving situation, the Group believes now need urgent consideration from the Minister and her colleagues in Government. These areas of focus are aimed at ensuring the survival of tourism businesses and jobs and preparing for the recovery.
Following the Group’s analysis of where the sector lies, the Recovery Oversight Group believe that the following areas require the attention of the Minister and her colleagues in Government:
In view of the foregoing and the Group’s analysis of where the sector lies, as well as the recommendations in the Recovery Plan, we believe that the following areas require the attention of the Minister and her colleagues in Government:
The sector remains in survival mode. Businesses and jobs in tourism must be kept in existence until conditions allow for sustainable recovery:
- Maintain the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) in its current form for all businesses until the end Q2 2021 at the earliest and for businesses where reference turnover is down 50% or more until the end of the year, ensuring that those hit hardest get the most benefit.
- Maintain the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) in its current form until the end of 2021 and ensure that tourism sectoral supports, such as the business continuity schemes administered by Fáilte Ireland, continue to be sufficiently funded to allow businesses to survive until recovery comes.
- Identify, in the context of the revised Living with Covid Plan, clear criteria which will determine when the tourism sector can re-open, including international access and inbound tourism, and ensure that there is clear and consistent communications from Government around this to provide much needed certainty for the industry and consumers.
- Extend the Local Authority Rates Waiver until the end of 2021 for tourism and hospitality businesses.
Additional steps also need to be taken now to put the conditions in place to allow the sector to plan and budget for recovery, as follows:
- Extend the 9% VAT rate out to 2025 to provide certainty for businesses in pricing in what will be a hugely competitive tourism environment when international travel resumes.
- Accelerate progress on implementing the Government’s Action Plan for Insurance Reform and examine specific issues affecting the tourism sector in this context as a matter of urgency.
- Revise the Stay and Spend initiative to make it more consumer friendly and extend the qualifying period to the end of 2021.
Commenting on the report, Minister Catherine Martin said:
“The Recovery Plan was a key contribution for my colleagues and I in Government in considering measures to support the sector in Budget 2021. I appointed the Recovery Oversight in December to keep me apprised of developments with its implementation and the tourism sector more generally.
“I welcome this report that the Recovery Oversight Group presented to me today and I wish to commend the Recovery Oversight Group and its Chair, Nóirín Hegarty, for the work done so far. I note the areas of focus which the Group is putting forward and I will carefully consider these points together with my colleagues. The area of business supports, in particular, is something on which we have remained very focused in Cabinet. Having spoken at the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation’s virtual conference last week, I am well aware of the challenges the sector continues to face. I will be bringing the report of the Recovery Oversight Group to the Hospitality and Tourism forum for consideration at the next meeting.
“While the pace of recovery is uncertain I am sure that with appropriate supports tourism can return to providing sustainable employment and generating revenue for the economy.”
The Chair of the Recovery Oversight Group, Nóirín Hegarty, added:
“In Budget 2021, Minister Martin and her colleagues introduced a number of key measures as recommended in the Tourism Recovery Plan to ensure the survival of the Tourism Sector. While these measures were welcomed by the industry and have been hugely beneficial, the evolution of the pandemic and the consequential public health measures have meant that tourism remains in a very precarious position. We must ensure that adequate survival measures are maintained or introduced, as appropriate, whilst continuing to plan for the recovery.
“The Recovery Oversight Group has meet three times since we were appointed in December 2020. The Group has discussed the evolving situation with regard to tourism and how it is being affected by the pandemic.In view of the foregoing and the Group’s analysis of where the sector lies, we have highlighted the areas that require attention from the Minister and her colleagues in Government.
“We believe that the existential risks to many parts of our sector have only increased since the Recovery Plan was drawn up. Whilst it is inevitable, unfortunately, that some businesses may not come through the pandemic, a significant level of business failure will have far-reaching consequences for the recovery and the economic and social sustainability of many areas with few alternative options for employment.”
The Recovery Oversight Group Report can be accessed on www.gov.ie/tourismrecoverytaskforce