Clare T.D. and Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Deputy Pat Breen says that tourism industry is booming and that initiatives taken by the Government such as the establishment of the Shannon Group plc, the abolition of the Air Travel Tax and the introduction of the 9% Tourism VAT rate, the Gathering 2013 and the launch of the Wild Atlantic Way have been a huge success in helping the Sector get back on its feet.
“Tourism is now one of Ireland’s largest industries, supporting over 200,000 jobs. Official CSO figures for the first half of 2015 show there have been over 400,000 extra overseas visitors to Ireland compared with the same time last year.
“County Clare is benefitting from the increase in overseas visitors. Only this week, the Cliffs of Moher was named as one of only six Irish attractions which have made it onto a list of the world’s top 500 must see sights of all time, compiled by guidebook publisher Lonely Planet.
“The establishment of the Shannon Group has allowed Shannon Airport to increase its traffic, create jobs and support development in the wider region. The abolition of the Air Travel Tax has helped to support the airlines to develop new routes and build traffic volumes through the Airport and that strong growth is now driving tourism recovery throughout the County.
“The introduction of the 9% tourism VAT rate has also made a real impact and has been credited with the creation of 547 jobs in this County and anyone can see from the latest tourism figures that it has been a huge success. Overall Fáilte Ireland research has shown that since the VAT rate was originally cut to 9%, tourism has generated an extra 30,000 jobs.
“This Government has placed tourism at the centre of its economic recovery plans and has supported the tourism sector with measures such as the establishment of the Shannon Group Place, the new 9% VAT rate, the Gathering Ireland 2013, the scrapping of the Air Travel Tax and the Launch of the Wild Atlantic Way.
“This Government remains committed to growing the tourism sector further and continuing to support local businesses and those who work within them. The tourism strategy “People, Place and Policy, growing tourism to 2025’ sets clear targets for the sector. The Government’s ambition is that employment in the sector will reach 250,000 by 2025 and this will be underpinned by 10 million overseas visits per year by 2025 (compared to 7.6 million in 2014).
“Fine Gael is standing up for rural Ireland and we’re determined to spread the recovery throughout the country. We see the booming tourism sector as a key driver of this recovery and a means to ensure that it reaches every corner of Ireland.