Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (169)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

169. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to help a sector (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26699/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Enterprise)

I am aware of the serious difficulties arising for Irish licensed travel agents and tour operators in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the catastrophic collapse of overseas travel and tourism.

To date Government has provided a wide range of supports to businesses across the economy, including those operating in the travel and tourism sectors. The wage subsidy schemes have been the most important supports and have allowed businesses to retain the link with employees even as revenues have fallen away. Other supports such as the tax warehousing scheme have been important in allowing businesses to retain short-term liquidity. Costs such as rates have been waived for many businesses. Additionally, my Department has a wide range of supports which are available to businesses within this sector. The Restart Grant is a direct cash injection of up to €25,000 into eligible businesses, easy to access loans are available from Microfinance Ireland, the new COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme offers a range of loans from €10,000 up to €1M. Mentoring and other such soft supports which can help businesses navigate their way through this crisis are available through the Local Enterprise Office network.

I understand that my colleague the Minister for Transport who has responsibility for this sector has provided a special financial guarantee under a Refund Credit Note scheme for the sector. This guarantees credit notes that licensed travel agent and tour operators issue to their customers; without this guarantee, it is likely that the industry would otherwise have to pay back cash refunds. I understand that credit notes in excess of €17m have already been issued to consumers under the scheme.

I am aware that businesses in the sector are looking for more assistance and the Irish Travel Agents Association has made representations on behalf of its members for additional financial supports in the form of top-ups to business support schemes announced in the July Stimulus. These proposals will be considered by Government in due course.