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Letter to Kerry TDs on behalf of local hoteliers representing 106 businesses

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Budget 2021: Urgent Government Supports Required with 11,600 Local Tourism Jobs at Risk

9th October 2020

Dear Deputy,

On behalf of hotels and guesthouses in Kerry, representing some 106 businesses, I’m writing to alert you to the extraordinary and existential challenges facing our industry and the immediate sector-specific measures required to safeguard thousands of livelihoods supported by tourism and hospitality across the country including Kerry.

 

In recent days it has become clear that it is now ‘make or break’ time for Irish tourism with businesses facing an incredibly bleak seven months ahead.

Our industry is experiencing a disastrous collapse in business levels and now faces an imminent wave of further job losses – 100,000 tourism jobs have been lost across the country so far this year, and a further 100,000 jobs are now at immediate risk.

Already operating under severely challenging conditions, hotels and guesthouses have seen revenues wiped out as a result of Level 3 restrictions, which stop guests from travelling outside their county. Properties are effectively empty with no ability to generate revenues and facing enormous uncertainty. Many now have to make very stark choices about lay-offs and whether they can stay open for the remainder of the year given the inadequate supports available.

Prior to COVID-19, tourism businesses across Kerry supported 15,700 jobs and generated €592 million in revenues annually for the local economy. This year with local tourism struggling under immense financial difficulties, 11,600 tourism jobs (almost 75%) are at risk across Kerry. These jobs matter – not only to the people working within the industry but also to the wider economy, especially the many parts of regional Ireland where tourism is the only show in town.

Failure to act now would do irreparable damage to the long-term viability of our industry and our ability to act as an engine for growth throughout the entire country. A severely devastated tourism sector would be a major loss both nationally and locally to our economy and wider society for many years to come. This can and must be avoided.

Urgent and unprecedented intervention from the Government is now required to support tourism businesses and safeguard thousands of jobs throughout the sector. This must form a central plank of the upcoming Budget.

Four Urgent Government Supports Required in this Year’s Budget:

 

1.       Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) – if jobs are to be retained, the EWSS rates of support must be increased to the previous TWSS levels of €350/€410 per week for businesses that can demonstrate a 50% reduction in turnover for a 12-month period to 31 March 2021. The period for calculating the existing 30% reduction should also be extended on a similar basis. This would make it possible for employers to retain staff during the difficult winter/spring months ahead and to facilitate training and upskilling structures designed to allow employees get personal benefit from this challenging period and to help the industry prepare for post COVID-19 recovery opportunities. Payments should be made on a weekly basis to assist with cashflow. The scheme should be continued until the impact of COVID-19 restrictions has fully abated.

2.       Reduction in Tourism VAT to 9% – permanent restoration to 9% to assist recovery and secure a viable and sustainable future for tourism. Reducing VAT will not only provide a stimulus in the Irish economy but also improve our competitiveness as an international tourism destination. VAT on Irish Hotels is currently the second highest in Europe and higher than 30 European Countries.

3.       Liquidity Measures - Additional liquidity measures are required to help fund hotels during the coming months as a result of the cash flow lost out due to COVID-19 restrictions, including an extension of the moratorium on bank term loans from six months to 12 months.

4.       Local Authority Rates Waiver - The 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 crisis and until the industry has recovered.

Last year tourism generated €9.2bn in revenues for the Irish economy, supporting 270,000 livelihoods throughout the country and contributing over €2bn in taxes to the exchequer. It offers enormous potential for recovery and return to growth over the coming years, playing an important role in restoring employment and regional balance to the economy.

Everything possible must therefore be done to put tourism on a more stable footing, similar to the last financial crisis, when tourism created some 90,000 new jobs throughout the country – demonstrating our industry’s ability to rebound given the right supports and policy priority. Nothing short of an emergency intervention is now required from the Government in the form of additional sector-specific measures as outlined above. These measures, if implemented immediately, will go a long way to ensure the survival and long-term financial stability of many tourism businesses.

On behalf of hoteliers in Kerry and our local tourism community, I would urge you and your colleagues to support our call for the Government to safeguard Irish tourism – our largest indigenous industry – by prioritising these measures urgently. A failure to support this vital industry now will have ramifications for the future of Ireland’s tourism offering and for the economy that could take decades to remedy.

Yours sincerely,

Bernadette Randles, Chair, Kerry Branch Irish Hotels Federation

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Spa GAA lights up – continues each Wednesday night

By Sean Moriarty Spa GAA club has signed up to participate in the Ireland Lights Up winter walking initiative. The lights will be on every Wednesday night between 7pm and 8pm for the next few weeks at the club’s new walking track. This week marked the second week of night walking but the club also held […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Spa GAA club has signed up to participate in the Ireland Lights Up winter walking initiative.

The lights will be on every Wednesday night between 7pm and 8pm for the next few weeks at the club’s new walking track. This week marked the second week of night walking but the club also held a candle-light vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy, the Offaly school-teacher who was murdered while out for a walk two weeks ago.

“Participants can follow the walking track that offers a safe off-road path and this activity is open to everyone in the community. If anyone would be available to help with registration or stewarding any night, all help is greatly appreciated,” said club PRO Deirdre O’Sullivan-Darcy.

Any volunteers that can help any evening or any questions please contact Margaret Doyle on 0879181970.

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Specialists to examine Killarney trees ahead of future storms

By Sean Moriarty Killarney Municipal District is to appoint the services of a tree specialist to exam the condition of trees in the wider district. The move follows last December’s Storm Barra. during which several tress were toppled. One motorist had a lucky escape when a tree fell on their car during the storm. Another fallen […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Killarney Municipal District is to appoint the services of a tree specialist to exam the condition of trees in the wider district.

The move follows last December’s Storm Barra. during which several tress were toppled. 
One motorist had a lucky escape when a tree fell on their car during the storm. Another fallen tree blocked access to the Moll’s Gap road near Muckross.
Both Cllrs John O’Donoghue and Donal Grady raised the issue at a recent Killarney Municipal District meeting.
“In order to mitigate against such events, the Killarney MD Office are in the process of preparing tender documents to procure assessment of specific trees that are in the charge of Kerry County Council.” A council official told the meeting.
“This will allow the MD to make determinations on individual trees in its charge. Individual property owners are responsible for the welfare and maintenance of trees within and along the boundary of their property lines.”

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