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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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Better late than never Christmas present for St Francis Special School

By Sean Moriarty St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use. Husband and wife team Ciaran […]

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By Sean Moriarty

St Francis Special School received a very late Christmas present this week – a specially adapted bike for the pupils to use.

Husband and wife team Ciaran and Karen Dwyer, directors of Guerin Engineering and Pumps Ltd in Kilcummin, presented the special adapted bicycle to the staff and pupils at the Beaufort school on Tuesday.

After seeing an online request last December that the school needed the bike, they decided to gift one.

They contacted Glencar Medical, a Dublin-based firm that specialises in the supply of equipment to schools like St Francis, and ordered the bicycle.

However, nothing is straightforward in the current climate, Brexit, COVID and war all contributed to a delay in getting the bike to Ireland. Once it was in Dublin there were further delays in sourcing the special straps that St Francis’ children need to ride the bike safely.

It all came to a happy ending this week when the Dwyers were finally able to present their Christmas present to the school.

“We saw this request and we contacted the school and said we wanted to buy one, they told us where to get one, and we ordered it,” Karen told the Killarney Advertiser.

“We had it paid for by the end of the year but then it took three months to get it into the country. It took more time to import the specialist parts. The costs were increasing but we did not mind at all.”

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Jordan Lee to tell his story to the county’s schools

Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry. The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series […]

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Paralympian Jordan Lee will share his experiences with schools all over Kerry.

The Killarney man has embarked on a countywide tour ‘Jordan’s Drive’ in association with Kelliher’s Garage, a series of informal talks on his achievements and how he overcame his disability to reach the top of his chosen sport.

The 21-year-old was born with a foreshortened left arm known as amniotic band syndrome but has enjoyed a successful sports career which included representing Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

Now he wants to share his story and inspire other students to follow their dreams.

His tour started last week at Colaiste na Sceilge in Cahersiveen and over the next few weeks, depending on his training schedule, will visit schools in Firies, Milltown, and Killarney.

“Don’t be afraid of people with disabilities or different backgrounds,” he said. “A few years ago there was only typical people in classrooms – you never came across people with disabilities or from various different countries. It is a lot more mixed now. I want to inspire people to treat everyone on the same level.”

‘Jordan’s Drive’ is made possible thanks to his role as a brand ambassador for Kelliher’s Garage, dealer principal, Tim Kelliher explained to the Killarney Advertiser.

“Having got to know Jordan so well over the last couple of years we have come to realise how much of an inspiration he is so we decided to ask him to hop into his Toyota CHR Hybrid and bring his story out into the highways and byways of the Kingdom,” he said.

“Headlined ‘Jordans Drive’ and organised by my marketing team headed by Yvonne McMahon they have travelled to many of the schools around Kerry from Cahersiveen to Beaufort, Killorglin and with other dates planned for Firies and Milltown to name but a few. He has spoken his many words of wisdom to the children who have been in awe of the journey and his achievements, and we at Kelliher’s Garage are delighted and proud to have him as our brand ambassador.”

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