I want to welcome the Government’s plans to use the Tourism Industry as a key part of the Jobs Initiative Plan announced today.

Tourism is a key Industry for our Country and the Mid West & West Coast in particular. The establishment of a dedicated Tourism Marketing Fund, a new temporary second rate of Vat at 9% and the abolition of the Travel Tax if agreement can be reached with airlines to bring in additional passenger number, are all very welcome measures.

Another aspect which will have a positive impact on tourism numbers is the Short-term Visa Waiver Programme which will make it easier for visitors from emerging economies to come to Ireland without the cost or hassle of having to apply for an Irish visa. The scheme, which is Ireland’s first formal visa waiver programme, is a vital part of the Government’s job creation strategy aimed at creating desperately needed employment.

I also welcome the fact that the Minister for Transport is in detailed discussions with  are on-going in a bid to introduce a new scheme of discounts on airport charges which will generate and encourage much needed additional activity.

* Short-term Visa Waiver Programme will apply to short stay visitors of 14 nationalities who ordinarily require a Visa to enter the State and will apply over a period from July 2011 to October 2012.