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New holiday voucher scheme on cards to boost struggling tourism industry

Holidaymakers could get a voucher to spend on staycations from September onwards, under plans being pushed by Fianna Fáil politicians.
t would replace last year’s Stay and Spend scheme, which was later described by the chief executive of the Irish…

Holidaymakers could get a voucher to spend on staycations from September onwards, under plans being pushed by Fianna Fail politicians. t would replace last year's Stay and Spend scheme, which was later described by the chief executive of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation as a "complete flop". The tax credit had low uptake because it coincided with tighter Covid restrictions from last autumn onwards. The new voucher may be targeted at specific groups such as young people, retirees or those on low incomes.

While an amount for the scheme has not yet been identified, it may be worth a couple of hundred euro and allow people to go on staycations in the off-peak autumn season. Fianna Fail TDs and senators will today launch the 'Aviation/Tourism/Hospitality Steering Committee' issues paper, which makes a number of suggestions for how the country can be helped to recover. One of these is an "incentive scheme", where the policy paper argues that there is merit in examining a "further voucher scheme".

Timmy Dooley

The voucher scheme would "incentivise spending" that would be "most useful for the shoulder season from September onwards".

"Further investigation of a point-of-sale voucher like the UK would be useful in terms of ease of use," reads the policy paper, seen by the Irish Independent ahead of its -publication. "The feasibility of such a voucher scheme being targeted at particular groups should be investigated (eg, low-income earners, young people, retirees)," it adds. It is understood that Tourism Minister Catherine Martin is examining options for "off--season" supports to encourage staycations in the autumn.

Junior Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne is one of the members of the aviation, tourism and hospitality steering committee within Fianna Fail. Other members include TDs Cathal Crowe, James Lawless, John McGuinness, Michael Moynihan, Christopher O'Sullivan and Senators Ollie Crowe, Timmy Dooley, Pat Casey, Shane Cassells and Erin McGreehan. It is understood Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath has seen the issues paper and plans for the voucher scheme.

A Government source last night suggested the proposal may not go ahead because there is enough demand within the hospitality sector at present. Mr Dooley said the voucher scheme would be a help to parents when their children return to school or for families who have not been able to afford a holiday. "We have to find an incentive to get people back out from September, October, early November," he said.

The issues paper also urges the return of travel to North America and that an agreement should be reached with the Biden administration to increase access for private jets to use Irish airports, especially Shannon, as a pre-clearance gateway to the US. This would develop Ireland as a "major hub for travel" to the US as part of the recovery of the aviation industry with "immediate and substantial investment". Fianna Fail will urge a multi--year recovery programme for aviation, needed "immediately", including tax incentives.

The document also calls for airports outside Dublin to be provided with a common fixed sum per passenger by the State to stimulate traffic and reduce airline airport charges.