Pub, hotel and restaurant vouchers donated to every household across the country could be part of the solution to saving our pubs and hospitality this year.
Government and opposition TDs have united in supporting a new 2021 household voucher system to replace the government’s failed Stay and Spend program.
The Oireachtas tourism committee yesterday hosted representatives from the hospitality industry who told politicians about the devastation their industry suffered during Covid.
Noel Anderson, chairman of the Licensed Vintners’ Association (LVA) and managing director of Bridge Bar in Dublin, said the past year had been “soul-destroying” for his industry.
Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) Managing Director Adrian Cummins said: “Hospitality businesses are on the verge of collapse, 50% of restaurants face permanent closure, we need of a reopening plan.
“We need a plan to rehire staff, and most importantly, our industry needs hope.”
And Irish Hotel Federation president Elaina Fitzgerald Kane has said the uncertainty means they can no longer retain staff with promises of work they can’t stand.
She said there were “160,000 people not working and there was a tsunami of people leaving.”
In response, the proposal to give vouchers to households of € 100 and € 150 each received broad support within the committee.
Fianna Fáil Cork TD, Christopher O’Sullivan, believes last year’s Stay and Spend tax rebate program needs to be revamped for 2021 as a voucher program for the hospitality industry.
Mr O’Sullivan proposed last month that a special voucher scheme for those over 65 who had received the vaccine be introduced as a reward for their endurance last year, and he believes that should be extended.
He said: “In September, October, November, I think there are fears of some kind of cliff.
“So I think that a voucher system, not just for people over 65, we can expand it, include a lot more.
“What is clear is that the Stay and Spend program did not work, there was only 0.02% usage and I think it was because it was a tax break. , because of the way it was structured, people weren’t ready to accept it.
“But a voucher system, putting $ 100, $ 150 in people’s hands, I really think that would make a difference.”
He was supported by others at the meeting, including the other side of the Sinn Féin TD political divide from Louth, Imelda Munster.
She added: “I raised the issue of the government travel and expense tax refund, which turned out to be a complete failure.
“Some of the attendees at today’s meeting agreed that it was not fit for purpose.
“When asked about a voucher system, many industry representatives indicated that they would be in favor of a voucher system as a way to support them in the coming season.
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“Sinn Féin offered a Staycation voucher program last summer that would give € 200 for each adult and € 100 for each child to ensure that everyone can get a helping hand to enjoy the holidays this year. year.
“Our plan would put money directly into the pockets of people who then put that money in coffers across the state to give the industry a much needed boost.”