Fresh calls for additional supports to aid Longford's cash-strapped tourism industry

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Clondra Harbour.

The Government is coming under pressure to provide additional financial aid to Longford's beleaguered hospitality sector.

The Government is coming under pressure to provide additional financial aid to Longford's beleaguered hospitality sector.

According to Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on Tourism,  Senator Micheál Carrigy warned of how the State's July Stimulus package could fall short in meeting the demands of an already cash starved sector.

“The Government will have no other option but to put more supports in place to ensure that the hospitality sector survives this pandemic," he said.  

"Unfortunately, the stimulus package announced a few months ago may now not go far enough given the scale of the pandemic crisis in this country and around the world."

Senator Carrigy said the retail sector was arguably the worst affected industry in terms of economic output with even graver consequences facing other facets of the hospitality sector over the weeks and months ahead.

"The retail sector is already taking a severe hit in many rural towns throughout the country and we know that many pubs, restaurants and cafes on the main street are not going to survive this winter," he said.

"If we want to protect jobs in the rural economy, the Government need to introduce policies in this budget that are going to protect jobs in these areas.”

He said in order to try and kick-start tourism, attention needs to be turned towards reducing Ireland's VAT rate further in a bid to entice more people to underpin dwindling hotel occupancy levels.

“The tourism industry in Ireland has grown hugely in the past number of years with huge investment from the private sector all over the country attracting tourist from all over the world," he said. 

"Hotel room occupancy rates across the country are at 40% for September, 23% for October and 12% for November based on business currently booked. This compared with rates of 89% last September, 81 % last October and 82% last November.  This is about rescuing jobs which are in grave danger this winter. 

"I believe the Government need to re-implement the VAT reduction rate from 13.5% to 9%, look at extending the commercial rates waiver for hospitality sector and put in place a type of tourism loan which considers the seasonal nature of their business regarding term and repayment structure.  This may go some way to ensuring that this industry is able to survive during this pandemic.”