Kerry Tourism Industry Federation Calls On Government To Safeguard The Tourism Industry

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WITH visitor numbers to Kerry expected to fall by 78% resulting in 11,300 job losses, the Kerry Tourism Industry Federation (KTIF) has called on government to safeguard tourism in the Kingdom.

Among a raft of proposed measures, KTIF has called for a nationwide catalyst package to encourage domestic holidays, once the national travel restrictions have been lifted.

“Tourism is our lifeblood,” says Pat O’Leary, Chairman of the Kerry Tourism Industry Federation. “The tourism sector is critical to the economy and viability of life in Kerry, it impacts on every household. It was the first industry to feel the economic devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic and it may well be the last to recover.”

Tourism in Kerry generates €661 million annually, employing some 14,000 people. Covid-19 has forced 82% out of the workforce into unemployment. Tourism supply and support businesses have also been severely affected with thousands of employees out of work and companies struggling to survive.

“Our members are now faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to open for what will be left of the 2020 season. Many may never reopen unless the government takes a proactive stance. We need help to navigate our way through this crisis,” says Mr O’Leary.

Further to extensive consultation with Kerry tourism practitioners and engagement with public bodies over the past number of weeks, KTIF has drafted a programme of measures which have been presented to government representatives.

According to the KTIF, these measures, although devised in Kerry, could be implemented on a national scale. The programme of measures is based on two prerequisites – survival and recovery for businesses and their employees.

In order to ensure the survival of tourism businesses, KTIF is calling for…

• a two year VAT amnesty followed by a scaled increase

• for the rates relief scheme as announced by central government to be extended to a period of up to 9 months, with no upper monetary limit

• for a restructuring of existing loan finance with either interest free or ECB lending rates as well as government backed guarantees for extended terms

• for a rebate on insurance premiums paid in line with the period businesses have been closed followed by a comprehensive reform of the insurance sector

• for a revision of the criteria relating to LEO support mechanisms to facilitate employment grants for employment creation in the tourist sector.

In order to enable tourism businesses to recover, KTIF is calling for government to…

• channel employee supports through the employer and facilitate a meaningful, effective and productive use of employee support payments

• for a guaranteed extension of the wage subsidy scheme for 6-12 months to allow facilities to re-employ staff and re-open while incorporating socially-distanced, and therefore reduced, capacities

• for a business reactivation fund that will enable and encourage businesses to re-open and generate employment while investing in new Covid-led infrastructure, hygiene protocols, sanitisers, PPE, employee training and intensive risk assessments procedures

• for a stimulus package that encourages domestic tourism once restrictions on travel have eased

• for a commitment to invest in the development of the tourism product for the new Post-Covid world and; for a Kerry representative at the cabinet table.

The Kerry Tourism Industry Federation (KTIF) is an alliance of all parties, including industry bodies, chambers of commerce and local tourism groups, with a vested interest in the development and sustainability of tourism in Kerry.

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