I propose to take Questions Nos. 799, 800 and 803 together.
Both I and the Department are in regular contact with the stakeholders in the tourism sector and kept advised of issues of concern to the industry.
The Government's plans to improve overall competitiveness are set out in the Programme for Government. I have also outlined my priorities to 2016 for the transport, tourism and sports sectors on my Department's website.
With specific regard to the tourism sector, the Government has already delivered on several measures under the Jobs Initiative to reduce costs and enhance competitiveness, such as reducing VAT to 9% on a range of tourism services and halving employers’ PRSI for those on modest wages. Following on from the Jobs Initiative, the 2012 Action Plan for Jobs set out key policy actions to ensure tourism’s continued contribution to economic recovery. The Finance Bill which was published recently contains further measures to assist the industry including
- The diesel fuel rebate for hauliers, bus and coach operators;
- Extending the Employment and Investment Incentive Scheme to encourage investment in tourism accommodation;
- Confirmation of the eligibility of tourism accommodation to participate in Real Estate Investment Trusts;
- Smaller tourism businesses will benefit from the higher VAT threshold of €1.25 million.
In line with the Programme for Government and the Action Plan for Jobs, the Government will continue to play its part in reducing business costs, increasing credit availability and enhancing overall competitiveness.