The retention of the 9% VAT rate is vital for tourism here in Wicklow, according to a Fine Gael TD Andrew Doyle .
Doyle said: “The latest official data on overseas travel from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), showed an increase of 2.9% in overseas visits to Ireland for the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period of 2016.
“Separate data from Fáilte Ireland showed that 272,000 overseas tourists came to Wicklow in 2016, a trend which I hope will be built on further this year.
“Tourism accounts for 11% of total employment in Ireland with 60,000 jobs in the hotel sector alone. Over 13,000 new jobs were created in the tourism and hospitality sector in 2016 bringing the total number of new jobs since 2011 to almost 50,000.
“While there is still uncertainty about the outcome of the Brexit process, tourism continues to be a national success story. That said, one clear impact of the UK’s decision has been a continuing weakness in the value of sterling which has knock on effects for Irish tourism.
“That is why Fine Gael in Government decided to retain the 9% VAT rate for the tourism and hospitality sector. This measure was first introduced by Fine Gael and helped create jobs all over the country, particularly in towns and rural areas where they were needed most.
“It is undeniable that the 9% VAT rate has contributed hugely to the regeneration of the hospitality sector and to our tourism industry in Wicklow .
“It is essential that competiveness and value for money is maintained – this is essential as we face into Brexit – and I ask that everyone involved in the tourism and hospitality sectors adhere to this.
“Encouragingly the number of visitors from North America, mainland Europe and other markets continues to grow. “In the recent Budget, Minister Donohoe also announced a total allocation of over €2 billion in total funding for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport for 2018. This includes €112m for funding to enhance further our tourism offering and market our country abroad.
“Fine Gael will continue to work hard to ensure our hospitality sector gets the supports it needs,” Doyle said.