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New Irish Tourism Recovery Taskforce to report 'by the end of summer'

A new tourism taskforce will spearhead economic recovery for the sector and consider "all new and innovative ideas", Minister Shane Ross says

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Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross  Photo: Frank McGrath

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross Photo: Frank McGrath

Up in the air: An empty Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport this month. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Up in the air: An empty Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport this month. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Cliffs of Moher. No.2 in our reader poll. Photo: Deposit

Cliffs of Moher. No.2 in our reader poll. Photo: Deposit

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Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross Photo: Frank McGrath

An Irish Tourism Recovery Taskforce will be announced today, the Irish Independent can reveal.

It comes as tourism "has been near decimated" by the coronavirus crisis, according to Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross.

"The vast majority of people working in this sector have either been laid off or are availing of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme. There is a real risk that our communities, towns and cities will not recover from this devastating loss of income, employment and business," he says.

"This cannot be allowed to happen."

The 14-member Taskforce will be led by an independent chair - Ruth Andrews, CEO of the Irish Tour Operators Association (ITOA) and Chair of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC).

It will include leaders selected from throughout the industry - including Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) President Elaina Fitzgerald Kane and former Aer Lingus CEO, Stephen Kavanagh.

Members will participate voluntarily, engage and consult with the industry, and be in a position to report on how tourism can adapt and reboot over the period 2020-2023 "by the end of the summer", the Minister hopes.

The timeline may concern tourism businesses who have already been shuttered for over two months, face a collapse in overseas visitors this year, and have been calling with increasing urgency for sector-specific support.

"One of the lessons learnt from the financial crisis was the requirement to act extremely quickly so that large parts of the economy are not obliterated, with long-term consequences,” the IHF has said.

As well as reduced VAT rates, both it and the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) have called for immediate liquidity measures, continuity grants and other sector-specific supports.

Minister Ross has previously said such a Taskforce could also make interim recommendations.

Other members of the Taskforce include travel journalist Eoghan Corry, Center Parcs CEO Martin Dalby, John Herlihy of LinkedIn and Jane Stacey, Head of the Tourism Unit at the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities.

It will also include Eimear Killian of Brasserie on the Corner in Galway, Ken Spratt, Head of Tourism and Sport at the Department of Tourism, Transport and Sport, Pat O’Leary of Kerry Tourism Industry Federation, Tom Enright, CEO of Wexford County Council, and John McLaughlin, CEO at North & West Coast Links Golf in Co Galway.

"All new and innovative ideas for recovery will be considered," the Minister said.

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