Approximately 300 jobs will be created in the Clare hospitality industry over the next twelve months because of the Government’s decision to retain the 9 per cent VAT rate in today’s budget.

I firmly believe that job creation figures achieved in the past year will be exceeded in 2016. The effects of the reduced VAT rate will be enhanced by continuing growth in the Clare tourism sector and increased passenger numbers through Shannon airport.

The Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) has stated that close to 800 jobs have been created in Clare as a direct result of the 9 per cent VAT rate from 2011 to 2014, with the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) stating that 30,000 jobs were created in the Irish tourism sector within a year of the introduction of the tax cut.

I expect this trend to accelerate over the coming 12 months as all the economic indicators are very strong around the tourist sector. This means in reality on the ground here in Clare we are on target to create one new job in tourism every day of 2016.

I have been canvassing Government support for the retention of the 9 per cent rate and I am delighted that Minister Noonan has decided to continue this worthwhile initiative which is central to growth in the hospitality trade.

Along with the 9 per cent VAT rate for the hospitality industry, the abolition of the travel tax in last year’s budget provided a significant boost for Shannon Airport and I am proud to have been one of the first public representatives to call for its independence from the Dublin Airport Authority.

The tourism sector was targeted by this Government as a strong drive of economic activity and job creation and as a means of spreading growth to regional areas. Here in County Clare, we are reaping the benefits of that prioritizing.

Budget announcements today mean the coming 12 months are expected to be very strong for the tourism sector and for job growth here in the county Clare and I very much welcome that.