Over 7,400 people in County Clare work in tourism and I believe this is an industry that can create a job a day in the County over the coming twelve months if the projected targets are met. It is an industry that currently supports 7,400 jobs in Clare and contributes some €190million to the local economy annually.
Tourism is a very important driver of economic activity and is one of the most regionally balanced of industries. The Irish Hotels Federation have set out their priorities for the next Government and asked local candidates to commit to decisive action.
I am pledging now, just as I did five years ago, that if re-elected I will ensure tourism remains a priority for any Fine Gael led Government.
We are the party who abolished the travel tax, which was killing off our Airport and passenger numbers. We are the party that separated Shannon Airport from the DAA, and we are the party which reduced and maintained the 9% VAT rate for the hospitality sector.
From The Gathering to The Wild Atlantic Way, I have worked hard to ensure that tourism has been one of the most important sectors fuelling the recovery in County Clare.
We have achieved a huge amount in the last five years but a lot more needs to be done over the next five years and that’s why I am pledging 100% to continue my work in the area of tourism in County Clare.
There are positive developments happening in tourism in County Clare every day. For example, this week, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in Co. Clare, is to get a €1 million euro facelift, the Shannon Group has confirmed. This will include a major upgrade, with an extended retail store to accommodate the growing visitor numbers, a new café, extended entrance and refurbished admissions building.
The upgraded facility is also set to house an Irish design gallery to assist and promote emerging talented Irish designers.
These kinds of investments reflect a confident tourist sector – could anyone have envisaged five years ago, when the car parks at Shannon Airport were empty, that these kinds of investments and visitor numbers gains would be possible?
Five years ago, I set out a vision for an independent Shannon Airport, and I followed through on that promise. Today I promise to ensure that tourism will remain top of the Government agenda, that the sector will be listened to and consulted with, and that I will continue to ensure the r conditions are created whereby hundreds more jobs per annum will be created in tourism in County Clare for years to come.