Published: Fri, 15 May 2020
MEP for Ireland South and Fine Gael’s leader in the European Parliament, Seán Kelly, has welcomed a new set of measures launched today by the European Commission to support the Transport and Tourism sectors. However, Mr. Kelly stressed that the measures were not ambitious enough to substantially improve the situation for the tourism, which is worth close to €6 billion annually to the Irish economy.
Speaking from Killarney today, Mr. Kelly made the following comments:
“While the roadmap set out by the Commission to gradually open borders and the guidelines to ensure the safe return of tourist activities and coordination across the Union is welcome and will certainly be helpful to Member States as they set out their plans, ultimately this will all continue to be guided by the national health authorities.
“It is difficult not to feel that today’s package could have been more ambitious in terms of direct measures to support those businesses, particularly the thousands of small family-run businesses, located in key European tourist destinations that are already suffering a significant loss of income.
“The EU’s €100bn Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) programme has been very helpful since its launch in mitigating the impact of the outbreak on our businesses, and this includes many in the tourism sector. However, a new and more targeted, tourism-specific EU financial programme – be it based on grants or on loan guarantees, as has proved successful in the past – would be welcome at this challenging time.
“I welcome in principle the patronage voucher schemes to enable people to buy vouchers that can be honoured later to support their favourite hotels and restaurants. I strongly encourage all Irish citizens to engage and participate with such programmes if they are able to do so as it can help to save jobs in the important HoReCa sector. However, this is an initiative that must be complementary to the needed increase in public support for the sector.
“Finally, I welcome the efforts of the Commission to make airline vouchers a more attractive option for consumers when flights are cancelled – this can be an important boost for our airlines who are struggling with liquidity at the moment. However, I also welcome the needed clarity has been given on the issue – passengers are still entitled to a refund and that should be done within a reasonable timeframe. It is important for the EU’s credibility that consumer rights are respected, even during these challenging times for everyone”, concluded MEP Kelly.