State tourism group wants subsidies extended and ‘clear criteria’ for reopening
Recovery Oversight Group also wants industry’s 9% VAT rate extended until 2025
Newgrange in Co Meath: the oversight group has called for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to be extended for the ‘hardest hit’ tourism businesses until the end of the year.
A group appointed by Government to keep track of its efforts to prop up the devastated tourism sector has called for extensions to a wide range of financial supports for the sector.
The Recovery Oversight Group, which oversees implementation of recommendations made to Ministers by the Tourism Recovery Task Force, has called, in its first report, for wage subsidies due to run out at the end of March to be extended to at least the end of June; State compensation for forced business closure extended until the end of the year; and “clear criteria” to be given to tourism businesses indicating when they can reopen to welcome overseas guests.
The oversight group, which is chaired by former Sunday Tribune editor Nóirín Hegarty, has also called for waivers on commercial rates for tourism businesses to be extended until the end of 2021; an overhaul of the State’s cumbersome “stay and spend” scheme for incentivising staycations; and the extension until 2025 of the sector’s tourism special 9 per cent VAT rate.
Leo Varadkar, the Tánaiste, had previously indicated in an Irish Times interview this month that the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and also the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) to compensate for closures would be extended.
The Government has also repeatedly said there would be no “cliff edge” ending of the schemes.
In addition to calling for EWSS to be extended to the end of June for all businesses, the oversight group also wants it extended for the “hardest hit” tourism businesses until the end of the year.
The Department of Tourism said the oversight report had also called for the Government’s updated living with Covid plan, due this month, to show “clear criteria which will determine when the tourism sector can reopen, including international access and inbound tourism, and ensure there is clear and consistent communications from Government around this to provide much needed certainty for the industry and consumers”.
The Government has been criticised in some quarters for imposing messy rules around foreign travel, although Ministers have defended this by saying they are trying to strike a balance that protects people’s rights.