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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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County Board open to GAA museum proposals

By Sean Moriarty The Kerry County GAA Board said it would operate “an open door policy” for any plans to build a GAA museum in the county. There have been talks at a political level to build such a museum in Kerry with political rivals in Killarney and Tralee both pushing for it to be built […]

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By Sean Moriarty

The Kerry County GAA Board said it would operate “an open door policy” for any plans to build a GAA museum in the county.

There have been talks at a political level to build such a museum in Kerry with political rivals in Killarney and Tralee both pushing for it to be built in their home town.

Before he retired from politics in April, Michael Gleeson was campaigning to build a GAA and cultural museum on the grounds of Fitzgerald Stadium.

His campaign goes back several years before the recession set in, with a €0.5 million bridging loan secured from Croke Park along with funding from Fáilte Ireland. That funding was lost with the onset of the recession before 2010.

Tim Murphy, the outgoing chairman of the Kerry County Board, has confirmed to the Killarney Advertiser that no approaches have been made to the County Board at executive level during his five year stint at the helm.

However, he said the Board would be open to such approaches provided there is sound financial planning behind the project in place.

“The first and most important aspect is the capital funding and my understanding is there needs to be Fáilte Ireland funding in place first,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “If it gets up and running, there needs to be very clear talks with all stakeholders so everyone knows each others expectations. A museum attracts footfall, but it costs a lot of money to run. We would offer an open door policy to all proposals but funding, first from a capital point of view and then from an operational point of view, will need to be in place.”

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Loreto pupils are happy to help save the planet

By Michelle Crean School pupils are fast becoming the next generation of environmentalists thanks to a brand new litter-picking campaign. Happy to help save the planet one bit of litter at a time are the children from Scoil Bhríde, Loreto NS, who are currently partaking in the Picker Pal Programme. It’s all about taking on […]

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By Michelle Crean

School pupils are fast becoming the next generation of environmentalists thanks to a brand new litter-picking campaign.

Happy to help save the planet one bit of litter at a time are the children from Scoil Bhríde, Loreto NS, who are currently partaking in the Picker Pal Programme.

It’s all about taking on a litter-picking adventure in their local area as well as learning songs, reading storybooks, filling in activity books while witnessing that their real-world actions are making a positive difference and inspiring others to join the movement.

Picker Pals is a unique primary school programme that gives children the tools and motivation to become the next generation of environmentalists, teacher Claire O’Meara explained.

“The Picker Pal Programme is a fantastic initiative and will go a long way to raise awareness of the impact litter has on our environment,” she told the Killarney Advertiser.

Real litter-picking is motivated by a Picker Pack made from upcycled dinghy sails and containing adult and child litter-picking tools, gloves, hi-vis vests and safety information.

“This pack is then taken home by a different pupil every week. That child takes their adult on a litter-picking adventure. The children then tell the story of their litter-picking adventures through art and writing. Raising awareness is an essential part of the solution to littering. Picker Pals gives young people the tools and positive motivation to steward their local environment and make the world a better place.”

The programme, run by environmental NGO VOICE Ireland, is funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and various local authorities across Ireland.

Now in its third year of operation, over one thousand schools all across Ireland will be taking part in the Picker Pals programme this year. In Kerry, 29 schools are taking part, and Scoil Bhríde, Loreto is delighted to be included, she added.

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