The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has published its tourism policy document, four-point plan calling on the main political parties to commit to decisive action in support of continued recovery in Irish tourism.
The plan seeks to ensure tourism remains a major engine for economic growth and employment over the next five years, targeting the creation of 40,000 new jobs during the life of the next government.
As one of Ireland’s largest indigenous industries, tourism is vital for the country’s economic wellbeing. Irish tourism has created 33,000 new jobs since 2011 and now employs over 205,000 people throughout the country.
Last year the industry generated €7.3bn in revenues for the economy and €1.8bn in taxes.
“While tourism has made significant progress in recent years, continued growth cannot be taken for granted. Market conditions within the industry remain challenging, particularly outside of the larger urban areas and traditional tourism hotspots,” said IHF president Stephen McNally.
“We’re at the early stage of recovery following the downturn and a lot more needs to be done before our industry reaches its full potential for growth and job creation. Challenges include the high cost of doing business in Ireland, particularly around Government controlled costs such as local authority rates, water and energy levies. Significant additional investment is also required to support tourism marketing and product development.”
The recovery in tourism to date has been supported by a number of important policy measures such as the 9% tourism VAT rate, which has brought Ireland more closely in line with tourism VAT rates in other European countries.
Other important measures introduced in recent years include the zero rate air passenger tax, support for improved air access and connectivity, and the liberalisation of the visa regime for visitors from selected markets.
The IHF plan has called for the following: greater cost competitiveness within the Irish economy; restoration of tourism marketing funding to 2008 levels; additional investment in Ireland’s tourism product and infrastructure; and further investment in people, skills and training.