Irish tourism sector decimated by COVID-19 pandemic: minister

The Irish tourism sector has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the country should do all it can to save the industry, said a senior official here on Wednesday.

Brendan Griffin, Irish Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, made this remark while addressing a meeting of the lower house of the Irish parliament on the devastating impact of the COVID-19 on the country’s tourism sector, according to a report by the Irish national radio and television broadcaster RTE.

He told the delegates that “In the space of a few short weeks the Irish tourism sector has been decimated and many tourist businesses have written off 2020.”

The meeting was informed that the Irish tourism trade could drop more than 50 percent in 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic, said the RTE report.

Griffin called for the establishment of a tourism taskforce as quickly as possible to save the badly hit industry.

He also suggested a zero VAT (value-added tax) rate for the Irish hospitality sector and an introduction of a new bank holiday towards the end of the year, so as to simulate the tourist consumption in the country.

The tourism industry is an important sector of the Irish economy, which not only annually generates billions of euros for the country but also supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in Ireland.

Last year Ireland attracted nearly 11 million overseas visitors, most of whom were from Europe and North America.

Due to a limited potential in further increasing the visitor numbers from its traditional markets, Ireland has recently turned its eyes to the emerging markets in Asia, especially the Chinese market.

Tourism Ireland, a state agency responsible for marketing the island of Ireland as a world-leading tourist destination overseas, plans to double the Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland to 200,000 in 2025 from an estimated 100,000 in 2019.

However, due to the disruptions because of the pandemic, Tourism Ireland has temporarily pigeonholed several promotion campaigns scheduled for this year in China.