Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and Fine Gael General Election candidate for Dublin Central, Paschal Donohoe, has today (Friday) said that the glaring omission of a tourism section from the Fianna Fáil manifesto clearly demonstrates the Party’s blatant disregard for the sector.
“Fianna Fáil presided over a 23% drop in overseas visits to Ireland in their final two years in Government. Their total disregard for the tourism sector is evident in the fact that little more 6 million visits per year were made to Ireland during that time.
“Fine Gael immediately identified tourism as a sector with enormous growth and job creation potential, particularly for rural Ireland. We cut the VAT rate for the hospitality sector to 9% and abolished the travel tax, a measure imposed by Fianna Fáil that hammered tourism by heaping costs on airlines and choking the sector.
“Initiatives such as the Gathering, the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East and a new brand identity for Dublin have turned the sector around and seen tourism grow to 8.6 million in 2015, the highest number of overseas visits ever recorded to Ireland.
“In a 128 page manifesto, released by Fianna Fáil, not only is there no tourism section setting out a plan to support a sector which employs 205,000 people across the country, but tourism is mentioned just seven times in a by-the-way fashion.
“When in power, Fianna Fáil cared only about builders and bankers, not the tens of thousands of B&Bs, restaurants and other businesses relying on overseas visitors. Clearly not a lot has changed as the Party attaches zero importance to tourism as a driver of economic growth.
“Fine Gael remains ambitious for the tourism sector with plans to grow visitor numbers to 10 million, revenue to €5 billion and increase the numbers working in the sector to 250,000 by 2025.
“Fianna Fáil’s exclusion of tourism from its manifesto further compounds its disregard for the sector, for the jobs it supports and for rural Ireland.
“Fianna Fáil refuse to focus on job creation and clearly do not understand the engine of our economy. Fine Gael, on the other hand, has a Long-term Economic Plan to create an additional 200,000 jobs by 2020, and we recognise the importance of the tourism sector to achieve this ambitious target.”