Tourism down the ministerial agenda, says lobby group

Government needs to address the soaring costs of doing business, claims confederation

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation provided an update on the progression of its 2025 strategy for Irish tourism growth on Wednesday. File photograph: The Irish Times

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation provided an update on the progression of its 2025 strategy for Irish tourism growth on Wednesday. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

Tourism does not get “due attention” from either the Minister for Tourism Shane Ross or the rest of the Cabinet, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation has said.

The umbrella lobby group for the tourism industry has said a hard Brexit coupled with the VAT increase in the budget will cost Irish tourism close to €1billion this year.

The confederation provided an update on the progression of its 2025 strategy for Irish tourism growth on Wednesday.

Confederation chairwoman Ruth Andrewssaid there is a “lack of Government focus” on tourism.

“Government needs to address the soaring costs of doing business, the inadequate overseas marketing budgets and investment, the negative impact on the new regulations curbing self-catering tourism accommodation and the increasing taxation levels and labour regulations,” she said.

Ms Andrews said the Government must take a lead to help restore Irish tourism’s competitiveness “at this uncertain time”.

She said the Government’s national tourism targets for 2025 have already been exceeded, therefore proving the “lack of Government ambition for tourism” and a “worrying drift” in focus and attention on the industry.

Confederation chief executive Eoghan O’Mara Walsh said the VAT increase from 9 per cent to 13.5 per cent should not have happened until the next budget.

“We should have allowed Brexit to happen and see what the new deal or the no-deal scenario looks like,” he said.

Mr O’Mara Walsh said tourism has not received the same attention as other sectors from the Government in terms of Brexit supports and that more investment is needed in a Brexit mitigation support scheme.

“We do think tourism does not get due attention at Cabinet level either from the line Minister or even from other people around the Cabinet table.

“Tourism is still not looked on as the sector with such importance and such regional spread and economic potential as it should be,” he said.

He also said there is disappointment among the industry at the VAT hike, along with new regulations for self-catering accommodation which are being enacted through the Department of Housing.

“That has a huge tourism impact. There is a risk that a lot of well established tourism operators that provide self catering holiday homes and the like to tourists and have been doing so for years will now suddenly have to apply for planning permission, go through lots of costs to maintain their business,” he added.

According to the confederation, the tourism industry delivered a 6 per cent increase in revenue and tax receipts to the exchequer as well as creating 35,000 jobs last year. The group estimates that growth in 2019 will be 3 per cent, half of what official estimates had stated earlier in the year.