New Athlone Gift Card 'could yield €1m in spending' for town
An Athlone Gift Card, which can only be used at businesses in the town, could help deliver over €1 million in local spending after it goes on sale in the coming weeks, the town's chamber of commerce predicted.
Plans for the card, which aims to encourage local people to keep more of their spending within the town, were first made public earlier this year.
The project is being delivered by the Chamber of Commerce through the Irish-owned Me2You gift card company. Chamber CEO Gerry McInerney gave an update on it during last Friday's meeting of the Westmeath County Council enterprise and tourism policy committee.
He explained that the card would be available for purchase from October 1. "We have 75 retailers currently signed up, and a lot more talking about it, so the expectation is that when we launch it more people will come on board."
Larger employers in the area were being approached and encouraged to buy the gift cards as Christmas bonuses for staff, with spending of up to €500 per employee allowed on a tax-free basis.
"We have gone out promoting this to the large corporate employers in the town. The hope is that if they start using this card for gifts for their staff, the money will be ring-fenced and spent in the local economy," said Mr McInerney.
"We have listed the potential yield as being €1 million, and that might be conservative if all of the big companies buy into this."
The card will be available to purchase online, at www.athlonegiftcard.ie, as well as through local outlets, from the beginning of next month.
Cllr Aengus O'Rourke said he was confident the new gift card would be a success. "It's a great option for businesses, and a good time of the year to introduce it as well as we approach the Christmas season," he said.
Athlone Chamber told the meeting that it was attracting a growing number of members, with a membership of 130 targeted this year and the aim of expanding that to 170 in 2022.