State tourism group also recommends 9pc VAT rate be retained to 2025, and ‘Stay and Spend' scheme be made “more consumer-friendly”
GOVERNMENT should identify “clear criteria” to determine when Irish tourism can reopen in the context of the revised Living with Covid Plan, according to the first report by Ireland's Tourism Recovery Oversight Group.
With tourism in “survival mode”, businesses and jobs in tourism should also be kept in existence until conditions allow for sustainable recovery, the State tourism group added.
It said the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) should be maintained in its current form for all businesses until the end of June, and the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) until the end of 2021.
Other recommended measures include extending the sector's 9pc VAT rate to 2025, and the Local Authority Rates Waiver until the end of 2021 for tourism and hospitality businesses.
The Recovery Oversight Group was appointed by Tourism Minister Catherine Martin last December to oversee the implementation of Ireland's Tourism Recovery Plan and monitor the sector’s recovery from the Covid pandemic.
In its report, it noted that Government support measures have been “hugely beneficial in helping business to survive and retaining jobs” in the sector, but said its recommendations needed urgent focus.
Additional steps required include accelerating progress on implementing the Government’s Action Plan for Insurance Reform, and extending and revising the ‘Stay and Spend’ initiative to make it “more consumer-friendly”.
“We believe that the existential risks to many parts of our sector have only increased since the Recovery Plan was drawn up,” said the Group's Chair, Nóirín Hegarty, of Lonely Planet.
“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,” she added.
Minister Martin welcomed the report, and said she would “carefully consider” the points and bring them to the next meeting of Ireland's Hospitality and Tourism forum.
“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,” she added.