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Kerry hoteliers welcome Budget 2021

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Hotels and guesthouses in Kerry have welcomed the range of measures and supports announced in Budget 2021 by Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath.

Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) Kerry branch chair, Bernadette Randles welcomed in particular the extension of employment supports to the end of 2021 and the rates waiver scheme along with the reduction in the tourism VAT rate, which she said would help aid the recovery of the industry. She said the new COVID Restriction Support Scheme, the Tourism Business Support Scheme and funds for tourism product development, are welcome recognition of the challenges being faced by businesses.

“The extension of employment supports until the end of December 2021 is very welcome," Ms Randles said.

Challenges facing tourism

"However, we are disappointed that the rates of the EWSS scheme were not increased. This does not recognise the challenges facing tourism and hospitality businesses in retaining key staff during the difficult winter/spring months and against the backdrop of additional restrictions. We also welcome the reduction in the tourism VAT to 9%, which is the right tourism VAT rate. It is an important measure that will stimulate demand and aid the recovery of the tourism and hospitality industry. After the last recession, tourism created the most jobs nationally - 90,000 new jobs - and there is no doubt that the 9% VAT rate contributed significantly to this increased employment. Pre-COVID, our industry supported almost 270,000 livelihoods, including 15,700 jobs, and generated €592m in revenues here in Kerry. This accounts for one in 10 jobs across the country, 70% of which were outside of Dublin. Reducing the Tourism VAT will help sustain jobs and communities across Ireland.

As well as providing a stimulus in the Irish economy, the reduction will improve competitiveness as an international tourism destination, she added.

However, she explained that it should be a permanent measure, at a minimum of five years.

"Contracts with tour operators for example, which can account for over 30% of many hotels’ business, are agreed two years in advance. Before today, VAT on Irish Hotels was the second highest in Europe and higher than 30 European countries. The UK – our nearest largest market and one of our biggest competitors - for example, currently has a VAT rate of 5% so today’s reduction is an important boost to our competitiveness."

 

Local authority rates

"We cautiously welcome the extension of the local authority rates waiver period to December 31 2020 and we look forward to engaging further with Government if, as expected, COVID restrictions are still in place at the end of the year. While every help is welcome, the time-period should 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 crisis and until the industry has recovered. Businesses cannot be expected to pay rates on historical turnover figures that do not reflect the significantly lower levels of business that hoteliers are experiencing."

 

Compensation scheme

Ms Randles also welcomed the announcement that the Government is to introduce a compensation scheme for businesses forced to close due to Government restrictions.
“We welcome the recognition of the enormous hardship that these businesses face, including those in the tourism sector and we look forward to seeing the full details.”

Additionally, she welcomed the €55 million allocated for a Tourism Business Support Scheme as well as the €5 million for tourism product development, highlighting the strong success of products including the Wild Atlantic Way in increasing domestic and overseas visitor numbers in recent years.

While welcoming the range of measures and supports, Ms Randles said that additional liquidity measures are still required to help fund hotels during the coming months as a result of the cash flow lost out due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We will continue to seek an extension of the moratorium on bank term loans from six months to 12 months. Government must continue to support us on finding the way forward on this as we feel it is a missed opportunity."

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Killarney centre stage for Pride Festival

The award-winning Kingdom Pride in Kerry festival is back next week and Killarney will take centre stage. Kingdom Pride will be celebrated in towns all across the county from July […]

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The award-winning Kingdom Pride in Kerry festival is back next week and Killarney will take centre stage.

Kingdom Pride will be celebrated in towns all across the county from July 17 to 21.

The organisation’s flagship Party in the Park event will be held again in Killarney House and Gardens, following the Pride march in the town centre on July 20.

This year, in solidarity with the people of Palestine, Kingdom Pride in Kerry is inviting the people of Kerry to come to show their unity by bringing Palestinian flags and kites to the march, and to the Party in the Park.

“Pride is a protest for human rights all over the world. Here in the Kingdom, we have been so lucky to receive tremendous community support from our allies and supporters, and we see the struggle for liberation of all peoples as a united cause,” said Daniel Quirke, chairperson of the organising committee.

“Our events have always welcomed everyone, regardless of gender, orientation, religion, or nationality. We truly believe that together we can create positive change through caring for and loving one another. This year is no exception, and we look forward to helping to highlight the Palestinian cause, and to bringing people together to keep generating positive change for all people.”

Events will take place in Cahersiveen, Listowel, Killorglin, Tralee and Dingle, and include an Irish comedy night with Áine Gallagher, an Irish-language movie screening, yoga, sea swimming, poetry and storytelling, bowling, pitch and putt, a lively drag night at the INEC, and plenty more for people of all ages.

“We do our best to keep tickets as low-cost as possible, and we have lots of events that are totally free to attend. It is important to us that people can share Pride with us, regardless of income. Especially with the rise of the cost of living putting a strain on people’s pockets.” added the chairperson.

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A weekend of Live Music, Fun and Entertainment, at FleskFest 2024

The organisers of the annual FleskFest have “a tremendous line-up, with a weekend full of entertainment to suit all” for the July 18 to 20 event. “It promises to be […]

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The organisers of the annual FleskFest have “a tremendous line-up, with a weekend full of entertainment to suit all” for the July 18 to 20 event.

“It promises to be the festival weekend of the summer, an event you don’t want to miss out on. Last year’s Festival was a fantastic memorable experience for our community, a time to get together and celebrate,” said festival PRO Seán Daly.

Organised by Glenflesk GAA, FleskFest 24 will take place at the Barraduff Community Field next week.
There will be a fully licensed bar in the Fest Marquee, some amazing live music on The Big Stage, food trucks and much more.
Glenflesk GAA club’s biggest fundraiser of the year includes a new-for-2024 Texas Holdem Poker Tournament on Thursday night.
Weekend highlights include old-time waltzing, jiving and polka sets with Paudie McAuliffe and Paudie Coffey Band on Friday,
On Saturday, the new Well Flesk event will take place.
“A morning of self-care and wellness at Flesk Fest featuring masterclasses in yoga, pilates, mindfulness, spinning, fitness sessions, workouts, firewood sauna and ice pods with a range of experienced and qualified instructors,” added Daly.
Leading local musician Johnny Courtney and Friends, Sam and Ina, The O’Donoghue Sisters, Reigning All Ireland Champions Glenflesk Ballad Group, and The Border Boys will take to the Big Stage over the weekend.
Sunday is Family Fun Day with children’s entertainment and disco and the All-Ireland Hurling Final Live on the Big screen followed by music with Thingamajig.
The festival will finish with a Sunday evening session with the Meadhbh Walsh Band.

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