Hoteliers in Waterford city and county have told the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, TD, that he needs to take specific action on their behalf to stem the tide of collapse in the tourism industry.

Pointing out that this year was, and continues to be, a ‘disastrous period’, the hoteliers have urged the Minister to reduce the burden imposed on hotels and guesthouses by ‘penal public sector charges and local taxes’. The also want the government to vigorously promote cost competitiveness and to address the capacity and credit problems being encountered by the tourism sector.

Mr Damien Lynch, Chairman, South East Branch of the Irish Hotels federation, told The Munster Express his members needed a three year freeze on all public sector charges at the 2008 level and a 30% reduction in local authority rates charged to hotels and guesthouses for 2010. He said this country could no longer afford to indulge in complacent taxation policies and stated that there was an urgent need to abolish the €10 air travel tax imposed earlier this year. It was vital, said Mr Lynch, that the government targeted marketing funds toward the British market and the generation of new business tourism in advance of the opening of national conference centre in 2010.

“Hotels and guesthouses are struggling to deal with excessive rates imposed by local authorities that have little regard to the disastrous conditions facing businesses. So far, the government’s approach to tourism has shown inaction and an unwillingness to adapt policy to address the needs of tourism businesses which are struggling for survival. Budget 2010 provides the Government with an opportunity to deliver on its commitment to Irish tourism and ensure the survival of businesses in the hotel and guesthouse sector”, said Mr Lynch.

The South East Chairman also insisted that hotels must be allowed to participate in the Government’s Employment Subsidy Scheme and that the Government must find a mechanism to provide hotels and guesthouses with targeted support for staff retention so that hotels did not lose the valuable skills they had built up that would position the sector for a return to growth.