Stay and Spend initiative has €99.6m underspend– Naughten

In Business & Jobs, News, Tourism by Denis Naughten

Savings should underwrite gift voucher guarantee

The Minister for Finance has admitted that the Government’s Stay & Spend scheme will see just over €400,000 being refunded to hospitality sector customers well short of the Department for Finance projected uptake at €100m at this stage, says Denis Naughten.

Speaking in the Dáil this morning Denis Naughten called for the underspend of €100m be ringfenced and used to ensure gift vouchers purchased in the tourism and hospitality sector can either be redeemed or refunded in 2021.

Responding the Minister for Finance stated that this money is being borrowed and the lack of uptake means that we have to borrow less, but that he is willing to consider an extension of the scheme beyond April next.

Replying to the Minister, Denis Naughten pointed out: “It is much better to borrow money to support the viability of the sector than borrow money to pay the social welfare of employees across the hospitality sector.”

He added: “Rather than the tourism and hospitality sector losing out on this money, it must be ringfenced to provide a guarantee for those who purchase gift vouchers across the hospitality sector between now and Christmas.

“When we see iconic attractions such as Dublin Zoo under threat of closure, this will make many people wary of purchasing gift vouchers for hotels, restaurants or tourist attractions as they fear many may not reopen.

“The purchase of gift vouchers will not only provide vital cashflow to these businesses to ensure they remain open into next year – a key objective of the Stay & Spend Scheme – but will also encourage people to holiday at home in 2021.

“Guaranteeing these vouchers is potentially a win-win for our economy, particularly in many rural communities and smaller towns across Ireland and ensures the money set aside by Government to support this sector in 2020 actually does just that,” concluded Denis Naughten.