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06th Oct 2020

Government’s tourism recovery taskforce calls for extra Bank Holiday in Ireland

Conor Heneghan

Bank Holiday

Something a lot of people would be happy to get on board with.

The government’s tourism recovery taskforce has called for consideration to be given to the merits of introducing an additional Bank Holiday into the calendar in Ireland.

There are currently nine Bank Holidays in the Irish calendar and the taskforce has recommended that a discussion should take place on whether another one should be introduced during the off-peak season.

In its Tourism Recovery Plan 2020-23, the taskforce points out that the number of Bank Holidays is below that of European competitors such as Spain (12 annual Bank Holidays) and France (13) and that “an increase in bank holidays would create additional domestic high spending short break demand and would extend the tourism season”.

The recommendation from the taskforce comes after speculation on Monday that the government was considering an extra Bank Holiday this year, potentially just before Christmas on Monday, 21 December.

It had been suggested that it would be announced when the government confirmed that the entire country would be moving to Level 3 status on Monday evening, but such an announcement never materialised.

Elsewhere, as part of the tourism recovery plan, which can be read in full here, the taskforce has identified a number of priority recommendations aimed at ensuring the survival of tourism businesses and jobs, through measures such as:

  • Business continuity grants and additional operational supports for enterprises
  • Professional development supports for workers in the sector
  • Liquidity measures to support vulnerable but viable businesses
  • Facilitating the resumption of inbound international tourism
  • Increasing competitiveness through a VAT reduction and actions to increase the cost and supply of insurance
  • Increased domestic and overseas marketing expenditure

The taskforce, made up of an independent chairperson and 13 other members from tourism policy, tourism enterprise, international, private and public service backgrounds, met on 16 occasions up to the end of September and held a public consultation in June which attracted over 800 responses.

The taskforce has now completed its work and the Chair, Ruth Andrews, has presented the report to the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD.

Commenting on the publication of the recovery plan, Minister Martin said: “The taskforce was tasked with coming up with recommendations that can help the tourism sector to survive the crisis and recover in a stable manner. Its Recovery Plan will be hugely beneficial to me and my colleagues in Government as we examine ways to help the tourism sector emerge from the very difficult position in which it finds itself.

“I note in particular the Taskforce’s assessment that, of the 260,000 jobs in the sector prior to the pandemic, 180,000 jobs are either lost or vulnerable. I am under no illusions about the scale of the challenge and the many competing priorities facing Government. However, as we work towards the Budget and the National Economic Plan, I will be pushing hard for further support for the sector following on from the measures I introduced as part of the July Stimulus package.”

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