Ireland West Airport Knock this week welcomed the Government decision to reduce the air travel tax from €3 to zero and maintain the VAT rate at 9 per cent in the tourism sector as announced in the budget on Tuesday. A statement released by the airport said: “The airport believes this news will serve to continue to boost the tourism sector and encourage airlines to add more air access to the island and in particular to grow passenger numbers and overseas visitors through Ireland West Airport Knock. The airport now looks forward to working closely in the next few weeks with its airline partners on new services for 2014 to boost the number of inbound visitors significantly to the region.”
The statement went on to say: “Ireland West Airport Knock wishes to acknowledge the continued support of the current Government and the Taoiseach in working to achieve a sustainable growth path for the airport through the development of new air access and inbound tourism to the west of Ireland and in particular the roles that Minister Varadkar and Minister Ring continue to play in this. The airport looks forward to further positive developments in the near future resulting from the finalisation of the Government steering group report, chaired by Deputy John O’Mahony on the future options for growth for the airport.”
Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins responding to the news said: “Budget 2014 is yet another boost for tourism in the west with the retention of the 9 per cent VAT rate, the Travel Tax cut to €0, and €8 million provided for the Wild Atlantic Way tourism route. I am delighted that the Government saw sense, and has decided to maintain the tourism VAT rate at 9 per cent. Money is tight, and it wouldn't have been an easy decision to make, but it's a sign the Government is committed to job creation in the tourism sector. Businesses will now be able to maintain value for money, support existing jobs and invest in further job creation,” added the Mayo MEP.
Higgins also welcomed the zero euro rating for the airline Travel Tax which is designed to generate additional air capacity to Ireland, and said Budget 2014 will allow the Government and the people to build on the success of The Gathering. "This will also help Knock Airport build on its success of late," said the FG MEP.
“I welcome Minister Ring's announcement that €8 million will be used to develop the Wild Atlantic Way along the west coast. This €8 million investment for the Wild Atlantic Way will ensure that this new west coast attraction lives up to international expectations,” Mr Higgins added. “This new funding means the route will be fully sign posted by next spring.
“The Government will build on all these tourism measures next year, and on the great performance of tourism in 2013, and will make €24 million available for tourism capital projects in 2014. Fourteen thousand new jobs have been created in tourism Ireland since 2010, and so far this year, tourist numbers to Ireland have jumped 6.5 per cent.”