The sector is already facing unprecedented challenges as a result of widespread cancellations.
Pubs, hotels, restaurants, visitor attractions, tour operators, coach service providers and other businesses are experiencing “shocking levels of cancellations” and “almost zero new bookings”.
At a meeting with Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday, the pair sought “the introduction of immediate measures to stabilise cashflow, liquidity and working capital for the businesses in our sector,” according to Minister Shane Ross who added, “We must minimise business closures and job losses and the best chance of achieving that is to minimise cash outflows from the businesses. This includes making significant reductions to VAT, local rates, water charges and other outgoings.”
Minister Griffin said, “Covid-19 for the Tourism industry is what ‘Foot and Mouth’ disease was for the Agriculture sector in 2001. I am acutely aware of the need for a robust and effective response from Government for the Tourism sector today, similar to the Government’s response 19 years ago. We’ve been monitoring the situation very closely over the last number of weeks and have developed a series of mitigating actions that must now be put in place.”
At yesterday’s meeting, Ministers Ross and Griffin sought payment holidays for businesses.
Postponing payments to the Revenue, banks and local authorities would act as a first step in stabilising the businesses until the crisis passes, they believe and they’ve also sought further Government support for the sector, emphasising the need for urgency in order to protect businesses and to protect jobs.
Minister Donohoe is reported to have accepted the seriousness of the situation yesterday and the need for appropriate and urgent Government action and it’s expected that the Government will announce several measures in the very near future.
The LVA has strongly welcomed this announcement.
“It also tallies with the discussions we have been holding with Dept of Finance,” it stated last night.
The VFI, too, welcomed the announcement.
“It’s an aid package that we warmly welcome” the VFI’s spokesman Brian Foley told Drinks Industry Ireland, “with the proviso that it needs to be agreed with the Minister for Finance. But having said that, it’s a crucial intervention for a trade which is at the sharp end of this crisis.”
The Irish Hotels Federation too has welcomed the recognition by Ministers Ross and Griffin of the crisis facing the tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors and the agreement they’re seeking from Government for urgent assistance for businesses.
The IHF, which represents almost 1,000 hotels and guesthouses around the country, is also calling on the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue to implement these measures as a matter of urgency.