Local hotels warn TDs of 'make or break' time for Irish tourism

A group of 22 hotels and townhouses in the Longford-Westmeath area have written to their local TDs seeking support for the tourism industry.

In the letter, written by the Midlands Branch of the Irish Hotels Federation, they say that “it is now ‘make or break’ for Irish tourism with businesses facing an incredibly bleak seven months ahead.”

Prior to Covid-19, tourism in Longford-Westmeath supported 6,000 jobs and generated €87 million in revenues annually for the local economy. As a result of Level-3 restrictions and the burden it places on them, the group fears that 4,400 tourism jobs are at risk across the counties.

The group are urging the government to support the industry in the upcoming Budget 2021, released next week.

They are asking for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to return to its previous rate of €350/€410 per week for businesses that can demonstrate a 50% reduction in turnover for a 12-month period to 31 March 2021, and for the period for calculating the existing 30% reduction to be eligible for the scheme to be extended on a similar basis.

Tourism VAT should be reduced to 9% to assist recovery and secure viable and sustainable tourism, according to the group.

They are also asking for liquidity measures to help fund hotels in the coming months as a result of the cash flow lost due to the pandemic, and for the local authority rates waiver to be extended for a minimum of one year.