The recovery of the tourism industry could take months or even years according to the Government-appointed Tourism Task Force which has now recommended that hospitality businesses be allowed operate the one metre Social Distancing rule rather than the present two metres and that they be allowed to open before August.
The Taskforce has also recommended that the Government lift the 20 km travel restriction by the end of the month.
Other suggestions put forward include that schools not be re-opened until August 31st to allow the domestic holiday season to maximise the month of August.
According to a report in today’s Irish Times, “The Taskforce has also recommended that the week traditionally designated in October for mid-term breaks be changed, giving schools the option of taking one of two separate weeks. This would effectively stagger mid-terms to ‘facilitate families wishing to holiday in Ireland’ by spreading out demand to give the industry a double mid-term boost”.
In addition, the Taskforce has recommended a cut in VAT for the hospitality sector, an acceleration of Phase 4’s ‘recreational re-openings’ into Phase 3 due to be introduced on June the 29th thus allowing hotels to open earlier and an acceleration of Phase 5 ‘social re-openings’ into Phase 4 which would allow pubs re-open on July the 20th rather than the original date at the end of August.
It also recommends allowing people to travel for holidays within Ireland from June the 29th.
Other recommendations include a proposal that the two-week quarantine period for incoming travellers be removed for those countries with low Coronavirus infection rates and thus deemed ‘safe’.
Membership of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce includes Tourism Ireland’s Chief Executive Niall Gibbons and Fáilte Ireland Chief Executive Paul Kelly as well as industry members such as IHF President Elaina Fitzgerald Kane and Chair of the Kerry Tourism Industry Federation Pat O’Leary.
The Taskforce is Chaired by Ruth Andrews who also Chairs the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation.
“It’s clear that the issues we are highlighting are urgent from the perspective of those tourism businesses which are evaluating whether and how to reopen,” she said, “As a group we fully respect the need to maintain appropriate public health measures.
“However, we would not be doing our job properly if we did not alert Government as to the importance of these issues in the short term.
“By taking these additional steps now, the Government would be saving so many businesses and preserving jobs in Irish tourism.”
According to the Irish Independent the Taskforce has been tasked with preparing a Tourism Recovery Plan 2021-2o23 and has already met twice with weekly meetings to take place going forward.
“Fuller recommendations are expected within several weeks. An interim report is possible.”