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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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Relief as indoor dining finally resumes

By Michelle Crean After almost 500 days of closures the sense of relief was evident this week as restaurants, cafés and bars were finally allowed to welcome customers back in. Some had reopened for outdoor dining previously to help keep their businesses afloat but it was back to normal on Monday. According to the new […]

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By Michelle Crean

After almost 500 days of closures the sense of relief was evident this week as restaurants, cafés and bars were finally allowed to welcome customers back in.

Some had reopened for outdoor dining previously to help keep their businesses afloat but it was back to normal on Monday.

According to the new rules as set out by Fáilte Ireland and the Government, in order for customers to access indoor service, they must show proof that they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months. Those who are not yet vaccinated can only be served outside.

A maximum of six people aged 13 and over are allowed per table and it’s advised that face coverings be worn when not at the table, there is no time limit, customers can only eat or drink at a table and not at the bar or counter, and one person must give their details for contract tracing purposes. Live music and dancing is not allowed.

The Killarney Advertiser spoke to a number of businesses this week and overall the feeling was relief that they can finally get back to normal service but the issue of staffing still remains.

Brian Murphy from Courtney’s Bar said he was feeling nervous.

“I’m feeling nervous as we don’t have enough staff,” he said. “It’s a Monday so hopefully we can cope. Things will settle down and we’ll find a level we are all happy with.”

At the Porterhouse Restaurant Lee O’Callaghan said “It’s great to be back open and have people coming into the restaurant”.

“Hopefully we have a long season after being closed for so long.”

Staff at Reidy’s, Ellen Shannon, Rory Carroll and Jack Sweeney, added that they’re delighted to return to indoor dining.

“Hopefully we get back to normal soon and to brighter days ahead.”

At Jimmy Brien’s Bar in Fair Hill, customers echoed the same sentiments about being finally open.

“We are delighted to be back,” Danjoe Aherne said.

“We appreciate everything Alan Breen has done for us. We’re glad to be back home again!” Charlie Buckingham said.

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Time to get your skates on!

By Sean Moriarty People of Killarney are being urged to have their say on a new skateboard park before next week’s deadline. A public consultation on the project has been launched by Kerry County Council. Cllr Donal Grady, who first put forward the idea of a Killarney skateboard park in 2018, is urging the people […]

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By Sean Moriarty

People of Killarney are being urged to have their say on a new skateboard park before next week’s deadline.

A public consultation on the project has been launched by Kerry County Council.

Cllr Donal Grady, who first put forward the idea of a Killarney skateboard park in 2018, is urging the people of the town to have their say.

It is proposed to build the park on land adjacent to the Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre with help and support from the KDYS.

“In 2017 a group of skateboard enthusiasts approached me, they had no designated safe area to enjoy their sport. Sport is vital for youths, stakeboarding increases metabolism, improves balance and enhances coordination use,” Cllr Grady told the Killarney Advertiser.

“Skateboarding is now an Olympic sport. I commend Kerry County Council, management, engineers and the planning team for getting the project to this stage, it’s now up to the people of Killarney to have their say. It’s vital positive submissions are lodged by Wednesday, August 25,”

Submissions can be lodged to the Playground Unit, Finance Dept, Kerry County Council.

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