The Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media has recommended that the Government extend the 9% VAT rate out to 2025.

In its report, The Impact of COVID-19 on the Hospitality and Entertainment Sectors, the Committee makes 27 recommendations around financial and other supports for businesses and workers, new initiatives to encourage spending across hospitality and entertainment, and reviews of legislation and guidelines affecting these sectors.

The committee also recommends that the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) be doubled for tourism and hospitality businesses.

The Irish Hotels Federation has welcomed the report. Tim Fenn, IHI Chief Executive, said: “The certainty over the 9% VAT rate is vitally important. Many hotels are already contracting for international business up to two years out. Our current 9% VAT rate has only been committed to until September 2022. This is causing confusion in our highly competitive international marketplace and particularly as we seek to restore international connectivity to our island nation and rebuild international tourism against the backdrop of this pandemic.”

The committee has called for the Government to establish a hospitality voucher scheme and a new public holiday to stimulate domestic spending in the tourism and hospitality sector.

In a nod to the night time economy, the report recommends licensing laws be reviewed and modernised to reduce bureaucracy, and that all licensing be moved online and simplified.

Launching the report, Deputy Niamh Smyth, Cathaoirleach of the Committee, said: “The challenges facing the entertainment sector are no less severe. Evidence presented to the Committee notes that, of 55,000 workers in the arts, 58% have been wholly reliant on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment or Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme.

“The economic and social consequences arising from the pandemic, and from the State’s response to the pandemic, has presented – and will continue to present – significant difficulties for workers and businesses in the hospitality and entertainment sectors over the months and years to come.”

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