Fine Gael Senator, Maria Byrne, has said the 9% VAT rate for the tourism sector must be protected.
Speaking in the Seanad during a motion on the importance of tourism to the Irish economy, Senator Byrne said: “This VAT rate is responsible for creating over 20,000 jobs in the tourism industry.
“As somebody who comes from the hospitality industry and who grew up in a business that was involved in the hospitality industry for over 60 years, I know how vital this VAT rate is for the sector.
“I grew up, worked in and was an employer in the hospitality industry in the past and I am aware of the employment created by the small hospitality industry.”
Tourism accounts for 11% of total employment in Ireland with almost 60,000 jobs in the hotel sector alone.
Over 13,000 new jobs were created in the tourism and hospitality sector in 2016 bringing the total number of new jobs since 2011 to almost 50,000.
Senator Byrne also called for Limerick- the main city in the mid-west region- to become part of the Wild Atlantic Way.
She said: “Limerick is a very attractive destination for tourism and heritage. The Minister’s Department has invested a great deal in developing things like King John’s Castle and putting in high quality visitor attractions, yet we are not encouraging tourists to come to the city”.