Speech by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, at the ITAA Travel Industry Awards

22nd January, 2015

Good evening everyone – I am delighted to be here tonight. There is nothing quite like an awards ceremony to get the hearts of the potential winners racing.


They are a bit like elections in that way, though perhaps with a little more decorum.


I am very much aware of the importance of the travel industry to Ireland. Looking at the numbers, the value of business conducted in ITAA members’ offices amounts to a staggering €1.5 billion every year and the trade employs five and half thousand people throughout our country.


So the trade is very worthy of our support and I want to briefly mention two ways that I as Minister am eager to deliver that.




The first way we can support your efforts is through the ambitious tax reform agenda that the Government has embarked upon. I am very keenly aware that the last few years have been very tough for your industry.


Many of your customers have lost their jobs.  Those who have remained in employment have seen cuts in their salaries. This has, of course, impacted on spending on their vacations – and impacted directly upon your business.


Thankfully, due to the sacrifices of the Irish people and right policies pursued by Government, the economy is now in recovery mode.


Our number one goal is to help businesses, just like yours to create 40,000 additional jobs this year so that we can reduce the unemployment rate to below 10%. By doing this we will reach the target we set when entering office of 100,000 new jobs.  We have now set a target of full employment by 2018.


We are also committed to making work pay and to reforming our tax system.


That is why we are steadily removing lower paid workers from the USC.  410,000 workers have been removed so far and we plan to increase this number to 500,000 in the next budget – over a quarter of the workforce.


Through the changes we have made to our tax system, and the further changes we will make, we will ensure that work pays, and people get the reward they deserve for their hard work.


As well as increasing incomes, there will be a confidence dividend throughout the economy. I believe that you will feel the impact of these changes, which will be felt for the first time in pay packets this month, in your businesses in the months to come.




The other key policy area aimed at supporting the travel trade is in the area of connectivity.


It is sometimes easy to forget that in trying to attract airlines and cruise lines to land or dock in our country’s ports and airports, it is vital not just to have tourists arriving, but also to have Irish people on those outbound flights.


In the coming weeks, I will be publishing my Department’s aviation policy which has the connectivity of Ireland at its heart.


I am also eager to ensure the implementation of our National Ports Policy of 2013, which cites, for example, developments in cruise tourism, and to ensure that it is further progressed this year.



But all these things are for another day. For now, let me wish you all the best of luck both in tonight’s awards and in your businesses this year. We have had a difficult economic time recently. I have no doubt that, whatever our own weather has in store for us, there are sunnier skies ahead.

Thank you.