Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Tourism Promotion

Cathal Crowe (Clare, Fianna Fail)
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812. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a ring-fenced marketing fund will be considered for Shannon Airport to allow similar initiatives such as visit Dublin and pure Cork be rolled out in order to boost the airport, the mid-west region post-Covid-19 and increase traffic through the airport. [10526/20]

Darren O'Rourke (Meath East, Sinn Fein)
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890. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures taken to ensure the future viability of Shannon Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11611/20]

Photo of Shane RossShane Ross (Dublin Rathdown, Independent)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 812 and 890 together.

I would like to thank the Deputies for their questions in relation to Shannon Airport.

At the outset I would like to acknowledge the significant challenges being faced by Shannon Airport which has been severely impacted by Covid-19 and the consequential imposition of travel restrictions and the cancellation of flights.  Despite these challenges the airport remains open with restricted hours to facilitate cargo operations, essential passenger travel, emergency flights, reparations and diversions. Indeed I would like to acknowledge and thank the Airport for its commitment to keeping the airport open and for keeping passengers and staff safe during this difficult time.

Unfortunately Shannon Airport is not alone in the challenges it faces, as the entire aviation industry is one of the industries most affected by the global pandemic.  It was for this reason that I established a taskforce to spearhead the rehabilitation of the aviation industry.  The Aviation Taskforce is charged with advising on a framework for promoting the return of aviation connectivity and aviation enterprises that are critical to supporting the wider economic recovery.  It will prepare an Aviation Recovery Action Plan setting out recommendations for consideration by Government as appropriate. The Action Plan should be concluded and submitted by July 10th. 

Also, the Deputies may be aware that Minister of State Brendan Griffin and I recently established a Tourism Recovery Taskforce that will prepare a Tourism Recovery Plan.  The Plan will include a set of recommendations on how best the Irish tourism sector can adapt and recover in the changed tourism environment as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. It will also identify priority aims, key enablers and market opportunities for the sector for the period 2020-2023.

Increasing air and sea access to the regions will be an important element of recovery in the tourism sector. Tourism Ireland has been working for many years to drive demand for routes to the regions, and in particular Shannon Airport, through co-operative marketing campaigns in conjunction with the airport, the airlines and other partners. Through the Regional Co-operative Market Access Scheme, €2.5 million has been made available to Tourism Ireland in 2020 for co-operative marketing activity to encourage new access and maximise the potential of existing services to the regions. When the current crisis does abate, and when air connectivity and air services have been restored, Shannon Airport will once again be in a position to avail of this Scheme.

Of course you will be aware that the Government has also put in place a broad range of supports to help mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on our citizens and businesses. One such support is the COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.  This Scheme allows employers to continue to pay their employees during the COVID-19 emergency. It aims, as we know, to keep employees registered with their employers, so that they will be able to get back to work quickly as the Country enters the next phases of recovery. The Scheme, introduced on March 26 and initially expected to last 12 weeks until mid-June 2020, was last week extended by Government to end August 2020.  Shannon Group is availing of the supports under this Scheme.

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