The key R number: Reopening date
The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC), representing the leading tourism stakeholders across the public and private sectors, has argued for a €1.5 billion suite of financial support packages for tourism businesses to help them survive this crisis. With a new incoming Government expected to be formed in the coming weeks, ITIC has called for a dedicated Department of Tourism headed by a Minister with significant economic clout, a reduced Vat rate, a doubling of overseas marketing funds, and a domestic market stimulus. >>> See ITIC’s Programme for Government ask here.
Closed by Government decree, and for public health reasons, since early March it is now time to make every effort to restart the Irish tourism economy. Tourism and hospitality businesses are ready to meet the highest hygiene and cleanliness standards and are anxious to commence trading and recover some lost ground.
However official restrictions on trading continue to be imposed. A 14-day quarantine period has been brought into legal effect for any arrivals into Ireland torpedoing international tourism hopes whilst the 2-metre social distancing rule poses massive viability concerns for businesses whenever they are allowed reopen. Ironically Europe is moving in the other direction, relaxing any quarantine rules with many countries applying the World Health Organisation’s 1 metre social distancing guideline.
It must be hoped that the 14-day quarantine period which is up for review on June 18th is not extended beyond that date. With airlines keen to commence routes, and the majority of Ireland’s tourism economy based on international visitation, it is vital that this business is somewhat restored. Equally the social distancing rules should be relaxed as the Covid-19 infection rate remains low.
Efforts should be redoubled to bring forward the reopening dates for the tourism sector whilst assuaging public health concerns.