The July Stimulus and Budget 2021 provided a significant package of tax and fiscal measures to build the resilience of the economy and to help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. Key measures for the tourism sector include:
- A €55 million business continuity scheme to help strategic tourism business survive the pandemic and drive recovery
- The VAT rate for the Sector was reduced to 9% to help improve competitiveness and viability of businesses.
- Two separate funds of €10 million each were introduced for Coach Tourism Operators and Ireland Based Inbound Agents Business Continuity Scheme in the last quarter of 2020.
- Funding of €5 million has also been provided for upskilling training and to improve digital presence.
- A €26 million adaptation fund for the tourism sector to adapt their premises to meet COVID-19 safety requirements.
- €8 million was also provided for a Restart Grant Plus to include B&B accommodation.
In addition, the Government has introduced a number of horizontal measures that have been of assistance to the tourism sector including the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), tax warehousing, and the Commercial Rates waiver.
In regard to the recently announced Fáilte Ireland scheme, this was a specific measure in the Budget to support strategic tourism businesses in meeting their fixed costs and should be seen within the context of broader horizontal supports such as the CRSS, EWSS, PUP and the ReStart Grant. It is intended that it will open for applications for the first phase of the scheme 11th February and it will contribute to the fixed costs of identified strategic tourism businesses that are not eligible for CRSS to support their survival.
The measures introduced to date have been critical in assisting tourism businesses to survive the hugely challenging situation brought about by the pandemic. While there are currently no plans to introduce further schemes I, along with my colleagues in Government, will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that appropriate supports are in place to mitigate the economic impacts.