Tourism voucher scheme can kickstart hospitality sector when it is safe to reopen - Imelda Munster TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Tourism Imelda Munster TD has called on the government to reconsider the introduction of a voucher scheme to stimulate tourism and hospitality later in the year once it has been deemed safe to reopen the sector in the coming months.
Deputy Munster was speaking at an Oireachtas Tourism Committee meeting where representatives from the Restaurants Association of Ireland, the Irish Hotels Federation, the Licenced Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland appeared remotely to discuss the impact of Covid restrictions on their respective sectors.
Teachta Munster said:
“Today’s meeting laid bare the enormous toll that the past year has had on the tourism and hospitality sector. The sector is crying out for support, and they need clarity from the government around how and when they will be able to reopen.
“I raised the matter of the government’s Stay and Spend tax rebate, which has turned out to be a complete flop. Some of those at today’s meeting agreed that it is not fit for purpose.
“When the question of a voucher scheme was put to them, many industry representatives indicated that they would be in favour of a voucher scheme as a method of supporting them in the coming season.
“Sinn Féin put forward a Staycation Voucher Scheme last summer which would give €200 to every adult and €100 for every child to ensure that everyone can avail of a helping hand to enjoy a holiday this year.
“Our plan would put money directly into the pockets of people who would then put that money into tills across the state in order to give a much-needed boost to the sector.
“Our plan is simple, effective and fully costed.
“We can learn from mistakes in other countries to ensure that such a voucher plan would not have unintended consequences in terms of public health, while still giving a boost to a population that has endured severe hardship in the last year, as well as the tourism and hospitality sector which has been brought to its knees by the pandemic.
“I hope that the government will take this proposal into account, as well other proposals made today such as increased direct grants to restart businesses and to prepare businesses to ensure that they can provide outdoor dining.
“I also made two proposals at the meeting that the committee write to the Minister for Tourism asking that the government appoints a representative from the restaurant or pub trade to the Tourism Recovery Oversight Group, and that the government provide clear information to the sector around conditions for reopening such as vaccination requirements so that the sector will be able to better plan for their reopening this summer.”