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United front to save 3,500 tourism jobs

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UNITED FRONT: Bernadette Randles (Chair Kerry IHF), Paul Sherry (Killarney Chamber President) and Niamh O’Shea (ITIC area Council member) are backing a five point plan by the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC). Photo: Grigoriy Geniyevskiy

By Sean Moriarty

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) has launched a five point plan that it wants the Government to follow to save up to 3,500 jobs which are at potential risk locally in the tourism and allied sectors unless action is taken.

The Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce and the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotel Federation (IHF) have this week backed the plan.

Businesses in the sector are concerned that COVID-19 has had shattering financial consequences on Ireland’s tourism and hospitality industry.

The jobs concerns come one week after publicans marched to the Dáil for the same reasons. They said at the time that up 15,000 jobs were at risk in Kerry - but the Killarney Chamber of Tourism has narrowed that down to 3,500 jobs in the Killarney district.

They say that last year, over one million people visited Killarney and that figure will be reduced by 600,000 this year - mainly due to the lack of international visitors.

“We are thankful we had a reasonably busy summer,” President Paul Sherry told the Killarney Advertiser. “But even if we get all of the staycation market we would still fall short. And this is not all about Killarney, it is a national problem and recognising there is pain in the industry and that something needs to be done. Everyone in this town depends one way or another on tourism.”

The closure of tourism and hospitality businesses for long periods, the reduction in capacity due to social distancing rules, and the effective restriction to the country of international tourists has caused massive damage to Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has projected that tourism revenue will fall nationally by €5 billion this year and there will be up to 200,000 industry job losses.

Both Killarney Chamber and the Kerry branch of the IFH are members of the ITIC, and Niamh O’Shea, manager of the Killarney Park Hotel, is one of the local representatives at Council level.

“If you take these figures and break it down locally, there is without doubt, jobs and businesses at risk,” she told the Killarney Advertiser. “Kerry and Killarney is disproportionally reliant on tourism, we have no Foreign Direct Investment.”

The Kerry branch of the IHF say that 11,000 jobs are now at risk in the county and that the Kerry economy is facing a €440m loss this year. Killarney has a higher proportion of tourism employees than any other town in the county.

“A severely devastated tourism sector would be a major loss to the economy and society here in Kerry for many years to come," said local hotelier Bernadette Randles, who is the Chair of the Kerry branch of the IHF. “This can and must be avoided. We are doing everything we can to protect public health whilst also helping to restore the economy and safeguard people’s livelihoods, but we face extraordinary challenges.”

The ITIC believe that Ireland’s world-class tourism and hospitality industry can be secured if the Government take five key steps.

These include the introduction of rapid COVID-19 testing to replace quarantine rules, the reduction of the VAT rate to nine percent until April 2021, the review of the wage subsidy scheme, the introduction of business continuity grants, and the doubling of international marketing budgets.

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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Help with Prescription Charges

If you need further information about any of the issues raised here or you have other questions, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in Kerry on 0818 07 7860 or email on tralee@citinfo.ie or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie.

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There are some schemes available which assist with the cost of prescribed medications and appliances and the qualifying conditions for each scheme is different.

Q. Do I have to pay for prescriptions if I have a Medical Card?

A. If you have a Medical Card, there is a charge for prescribed medicines and other items that you get on prescription from pharmacies. The prescription charge is €1.50 for each item that is dispensed to you under the Medical Card scheme, up to a maximum of €15 per month per person or family. For people aged over 70, the prescription charge is €1 per item, up to a maximum of €10 per month per person or family.

Q. If I have a GP Visit Card does it cover prescription charges?

A. No. Prescribed drugs are not free but may be covered by the Drugs Payment Scheme.

Q. What is the Drug Payment Scheme?

A. Under the Drugs Payment Scheme, you and your family only have to pay a maximum of €80 each month for approved prescribed drugs and medicines, and certain appliances. After you register for the scheme, you will get a plastic swipe card for each person named on the registration form. You should show this card whenever you collect your medication or appliances from the pharmacy. The HSE Primary Care Reimbursement Service provides a list of medicines or aids provided under the Drugs Payment Scheme. You should use the same pharmacy in a month to avoid paying more than the maximum €80. You do not have to register with a pharmacy for the scheme.
You can apply for the Drugs Payment Scheme online at mydps.ie or by completing an application form which you can get from your local Citizens Information Centre or Local Health Office.

Q. What is the Long-Term Illness Scheme?

A. If you have a medical condition covered by the Long-Term Illness Scheme, you can get free drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances for the treatment of that condition. The qualifying conditions include Diabetes, Epilepsy, Parkinsonism and Multiple Sclerosis. You can get a full list of the conditions covered under this scheme from your local Citizens Information Service. You must be ordinarily resident in Ireland to qualify. This means that you are living here and intend to live here for at least one year. Students from outside the EU do not qualify for the Long-Term Illness Scheme. The Long-Term Illness Scheme does not depend on your income or other circumstances. You may also be eligible for a Medical Card or GP Visit Card, depending on your circumstances. Contact your local Citizens Information Centre for an application form or download it from www.hse.ie.

Q. Can you tell me about the Discretionary Hardship Scheme?

A. The HSE Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PSRS) provides a list of medicines or aids provided under the Medical Card or Drugs Payment Scheme. These products are approved for the schemes by the HSE. Some items that can be bought over the counter are not included in the free or subsidised schemes. If you have a Medical Card and are prescribed an item that is not on PCRS list, your pharmacist or Local Health Office can apply for it to be paid for by the Discretionary Hardship Scheme. If the hardship scheme does not cover the cost of the medicine and you have to pay for it, you may want to check with your doctor to see if there is an alternative medicine. You can get more information about the scheme from your pharmacist or Local Health Office.

Q. Is there any tax relief for medical expenses?

A. If you pay medical expenses that are not covered by the State or by private health insurance, you can claim tax back on some of those expenses, which includes tax relief on medical expenses for prescribed drugs and medicines. You can claim tax relief online using Revenue’s myAccount service.

If you need further information about any of the issues raised here or you have other questions, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in Kerry on 0818 07 7860 or email on tralee@citinfo.ie or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie.

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The ultimate Quest makes a welcome return to Killarney

Adventure race enthusiasts from around the country gathered in Killarney on Saturday for the much anticipated return of Quest Killarney. Last held in 2019, this year’s event attracted over 2,500 […]

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Adventure race enthusiasts from around the country gathered in Killarney on Saturday for the much anticipated return of Quest Killarney.

Last held in 2019, this year’s event attracted over 2,500 participants who signed up to run, cycle and kayak their way around some of the most iconic scenery in the country.

Gap of Dunloe, Ladies View, Mangerton Mountain and Torc Waterfall were just some of the stunning locations along five routes of varying distances: 25km, 55km, 66km (run and cycle only), 75km, and 83km. The choice of routes allowed everyone from beginners to those with more experience to take part, as well as taking into account varying post-lockdown fitness levels!

Taking part this year were a couple of popular first-timers. Fresh from RTÉ’s Hell Week was Kerry’s own viral Instagrammer Tadgh Fleming who completed the 55k Sport Route. A fresh looking Tadgh said at the finish that Quest Killarney was, “Nothing like Hell Week, a bit harder I think! But really enjoyed it, I’d highly recommend it, going for the Pro next time!”

Incorporating Quest Killarney on her transformative weight loss journey was an elated Patricia Lewis (Trisha Transformations) who completed the 27km Challenge route, and had this to say as she crossed the finish line: “Anyone who’s thinking about doing it, don’t even hesitate, register now!”

Now on its tenth event, Quest Killarney, the world’s biggest adventure race, enjoys a growing reputation as a challenging race with a friendly atmosphere. It is also popular with visitors and participants alike as they are introduced to the stunning natural charm of Killarney’s glorious lakes and imposing mountains.

First home in the 83km Expert route was Niall Davis in a time of 04:17:55. In second place was Sebastien Giraud (04:32:47), and in third was Garry Carroll (04:34:24).
Kerry’s own Ellen Vitting (based in Kenmare) and RTÉ Hell Week finalist, was the first female home in 05:02:07. In second position was Laura O’Driscoll (05:18:43), in third position was Eimear O’Brien (05:27:13).

Overall male winner in the 73km Pro route was Dwayne Flynn (03:48:47) and overall female winner was Siobhan Dineen (04:08:37). Overall winners in the 55km ‘Sport’ route were Kevin McGuinness (02:13:08) in the men’s race and Orlaith Smith (02:34:45) in the women’s race. Winners of the 65km ‘Dual’ route were men’s race Liam Aherne (02:40:40) and women’s race Emer Monaghan (03:09:49). Winners of the 27km ‘Challenge’ route were Larry Stapleton for the men (01:13:27) and Niamh Hickey for the women (01:21:08).

Competitors were treated to hot food and music at the finish line, with prize-giving at The Gleneagle Hotel whose significant sponsorship and exceptional support continues to contribute to a positive day for everyone.

“We are thrilled that Quest Killarney has once again proven so popular with adventurers who are looking for a new challeng,” Oliver Kirwan, Race Organiser, said.

“Killarney itself is a great draw to visitors both from Kerry and further afield, introducing new people every year to its inspirational terrain. We are very much looking forward to preparing for 2023 as we encourage more people to discover their next adventure and put themselves to the Quest! We are grateful to everyone who gave us support and volunteered their time. We’d like to thank our main event sponsors Volvo and The Gleneagle Hotel, and also the contribution of our event partners All Real, Gnarly Peaks, Nuasan and MCG Kayaks.”

Organisers Elite Event Management are delighted to announce their event dates for 2023: Quest Kenmare on 11 March 2023, Quest Glendalough on 1 April 2023, Quest Lough Derg on 9 September 2023, and Quest Killarney on 7 October 2023.

For more information on next year’s events please visit www.questadventureseries.com.

 

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