This week, Government’s decision to scrap the €3 travel tax comes into effect with air passengers now paying zero tax departing from Irish airports. This initiative was promised prior to the last general election, and we as a Government are now following through on that promise.

Ryanair Chief Michael O’Leary has called the removal of the travel tax an “amazing incentive” . I welcome the fact that already on foot of the abolition of the tax and the growth at Shannon Airport, Ryanair will add 9 new routes from Shannon Airport this summer.

Undoubtedly, the Government’s aviation policy is having a transformative effect on the tourist industry. The Gathering initiative succeeded in putting Ireland back on the destination map, and the restructuring at Shannon Airport has resulted in a turn around in the fortunes of the Airport and Tourism in the Mid-West. While significant challenges remain, we are headed firmly in the right direction.

For years, Shannon Airport was too far down the political priority list and our tourist industry was taken for granted. We in Government have made the tourist industry a pillar of our new economy. We have maintained the 9% VAT rate for the tourist sector and abolished the travel tax as a result we are now reaping the rewards for prioritising this sector and putting effective Government policy into action.