A proposal to give every home in Ireland vouchers worth €100 and €150 to save the country’s hospitality sector got widespread support at Tuesday’s Oireachtas committee meeting.
A proposal of vouchers for every home in Ireland to spend in pubs, hotels, and restaurants has gained widespread support as a solution to save the country’s hospitality sector this year.
After a year of lockdowns and stay at home orders, there are fears that many of the country’s pubs, restaurants, and hotels will be forced to close permanently.
In an attempt to save Ireland’s hospitality industry, TDs from the Government and opposition were united in backing the proposed scheme for vouchers for every home in Ireland.
A devastating year for the industry – trying to get back on its feet
With the current pandemic rolling on, many pub, restaurant, and hotel owners were desperate for the Government to announce a precise date for when they would be allowed to reopen.
Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), said, “Hospitality businesses are on the brink of collapse, 50% of restaurants face permanent closure, we need a plan for reopening.
“We need a plan to re-employ staff, and above all, our industry needs hope.”
Currently, there are plans to ease restrictions in Ireland on 5 April, but last month Taoiseach Micheál Martin suggested that it was unlikely pubs and restaurants would be able to welcome customers before mid-summer.
A way out – attempts to save a devastated industry
The proposed vouchers for every home in Ireland, which will replace the Government’s failed Stay and Spend scheme, received widespread support at Tuesday’s committee meeting.
Fianna Fáil Cork TD, Christopher O’Sullivan, suggested that the Stay and Spend scheme needed to be modified for 2021.
Last month he proposed a voucher scheme for over 65s who had received the vaccine as a reward for their fortitude throughout the pandemic. Now he believes the scheme should be broadened.
“In September, October, November, I think there are fears of kind of a cliff edge. So I think that a voucher scheme, not just for the over 65s, we can broaden it, include a lot more,” he said.
“What’s clear is that the Stay and Spend scheme didn’t work, there was only 0.02% uptake, and I think that… because of the way it was structured, people weren’t willing to take it up.
“But a voucher scheme, putting €100, €150 in people’s hands, I really feel that would make a difference.”
Government backing – a positive response
O’Sullivan was not the only one to support the idea of vouchers for every home in Ireland.
Imelda Munster, Sinn Féin TD from Louth, said, “I raised the matter of the Government’s Stay and Spend tax rebate, which has turned out to be a complete flop.
“Some of those at today’s meeting agreed that it is not fit for purpose.”
She continued, “When the question of a voucher scheme was put to them, many industry representatives indicated that they would be in favour of a voucher scheme as a method of supporting them in the coming season.”