Ireland’s beleaguered hotels industry needs rapid help from the proposed EU Recovery Fund, representatives said.
Thousands of tourism businesses across the country remain closed due to the pandemic, including 90% of hotels, and the majority of the industry’s 260,000 employees are laid off.
Home grown tourism will not recoup the significant financial loss to the economy of overseas visitors, the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said.
Chief executive Tim Fenn said: “One of the lessons learnt from the financial crisis was the requirement to act extremely quickly so that large parts of the economy are not obliterated, with long-term consequences.”
He said tourism was highly competitive.
“Many major markets with which Ireland competes for tourists, such as France, have already announced substantial support packages for their tourism industries, with further supports likely through EU funding.
“These supports are giving Ireland’s competitors much needed certainty to plan their recovery.”
A recovery fund worth 750 billion euros has been proposed by the EU Commission.
Economies across Europe have been devastated by the shut down forced by the pandemic.
Hoteliers urged the Government to urgently seek assistance from the proposed fund.
Mr Fenn added: “With 70% of tourism jobs based outside Dublin, further delays in providing support measures could have devastating implications, particularly for rural Ireland, that may take decades to recover.
“While the various business and employment supports that have been introduced already are very welcome, they do not go far enough.
“Some industries, like tourism, have been far more severely affected and face a more challenging road to recovery and this is not being adequately recognised.”
Mr Fenn called on Government to give grants and guarantee loans as well reduce tourism VAT.
He said: “Businesses will be operating at severely constrained levels of activity when they re-open.
“The Covid–19 Wage Subsidy Scheme should be continued until the impact of physical distancing and mass gathering restrictions has abated.”
He said the three-month local authority rates waiver period should be extended for tourism businesses to coincide with business interruption due to Covid-19 and for a minimum of 12 months.
After that, payment of local authority rates should be based on reduced levels of activity due to the Covid-19 crisis, the lobby group added.