'Disastrous and stupid tourist tax will end by 2011'
RYANAIR boss Michael O'Leary has predicted that the Government will be forced to abandon the controversial €10 "tourist tax" in late 2010 or early 2011 because of its impact on the sector. "It has been a disaster for Ireland, for airlines and the tourism industry -- exactly like we said it would be," he said.
Mr O'Leary revealed that figures by Europe's airline monitor OAG showed traffic into Ireland was down by 18pc over the winter. But Denmark and Spain, where charges have been reduced, have recorded increases over the same period (7pc and 2pc) despite the global recession. Mr O'Leary said that while both Ryanair and Aer Lingus recorded passenger growth (13pc and 4pc), it was all delivered outside Ireland.
Overall traffic at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports, he claimed, was down 3.9 million passengers -- and he predicted that Dublin would record a further loss of two million passengers this year.
"Last year the total revenue for the travel tax was €70m but they lost nearly four million passengers.
"So it depends on what your view of that is.
"The VAT receipts alone on the lost visitor 'spend' was more than the travel tax alone never mind the airport losses. Stupid.
"I think it (the tax abolition) is inevitable -- I imagine by the end of 2010 or early 2011 when it becomes blatantly obvious even to the corrupt halfwits in the Department of Transport that this policy is devastating tourism and jobs right across the country."