Sinn Féin is proposing an economic stimulus plan for the tourism and hospitality sectors.
This plan, amounting to over €860 million, would, they say, revive two sectors hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, providing a boost to counties like Laois and regions heavily dependent on tourism and hospitality.
Under this scheme, every adult in the State would receive a voucher worth €200, while every child would be entitled to a voucher worth €100, that can only be spent in businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
Laois TD Brian Stanley said: “The tourism and hospitality sectors have been hit the hardest during the Covid-19 pandemic and urgent government intervention is required to support workers and families and to save jobs and businesses.
“Tourism is the State’s largest indigenous industry, employing 265,000 people, with 68% of these jobs outside of Dublin.
“92% of workers in the accommodation and food sectors have received the Pandemic Unemployment Payment or have been on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, while the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation is estimating a hit to the sector in the region of €3.5 billion in 2020.
“With restrictions on travel remaining in place, Sinn Féin believes a substantial economic stimulus is urgently needed to revive these sectors.
“As well as supporting hundreds of jobs, this plan will give workers and families the welcome option of a break away after what has been an extraordinarily difficult period.
“Similar stimulus plans have been introduced around the world. Italy has a similar plan to encourage people to holiday at home, Vienna is giving residents vouchers for restaurants in the city and the United States is distributing billions of dollars in stimulus cheques directly to residents.
“Our plan would see each adult receive a non-means tested €200 voucher to be used in domestic businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors, with a €100 voucher for each child.
“This would be non-means tested and available to every resident in the State. It is essentially a ‘staycation’ for Irish citizens to spend in Ireland.
“That means it will assist those unable to afford a break, but also encourage those who can to spend their vouchers, plus more, in our local economies.
“This is an investment in jobs and businesses. Without intervention now, thousands of jobs will be lost permanently, costing the State considerably more in the long run.
“We need to regenerate the Irish economy; we need our people back to work. It is better to put money into pockets and tills now, than to spend it on jobseekers’ payments in the future.”