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Eamonn Farrell

New bank holiday 'at tail end of the year' would benefit Irish tourism sector, says junior minister

Health Minister Simon Harris told this website that he thinks another bank holiday is a good idea.

AN EXTRA BANK holiday at “the tail end” of the year is something Junior Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin is in favour of.

Speaking in the Dáil today on the crisis facing the tourism industry, the Kerry TD said he has always favoured an additional bank holiday for Ireland.

Given the huge challenges facing tourism businesses in Ireland this year, Griffin said having an additional bank holiday at the end of the year would benefit struggling businesses.

He made his comments after Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane highlighted what Health Minister Simon Harris said on the matter in an interview with over the weekend.

The health minister told this website that he is open to another bank holiday at the end of this year as two of the most popular bank holiday weekends have been caught up in the lockdown restrictions.

“Yeah, I think when the country gets through this – and we will get through it – and it’s safe to begin to do some normal things again, I think there would be some benefit in having a day to recognise all that people have been through and sacrificed, that people might be able to enjoy with their family and friends,” said Harris.

As part of wider debate on tourism supports, the junior minister said he is in favour of VAT reductions for businesses in the tourism sector. It was also revealed that a special taskforce is to be established to drive the sector’s recovery.

“This is something I think is very necessary to give us a fighting chance to recover as quickly as possible and to take on the huge competition there is internationally.

“It is only when you go to places like the world travel market in London or the ITB in Berlin that you see the huge number of exhibitors that are there from all over the world.

“You realise how competitive it is for Ireland but also how well we do for tourism as we attract close to 11 million tourists per year.”

Griffin said the sector has faced challenges in the past such as 9/11, the Sars outbreak, the ash cloud and foot and mouth disease – but this year’s challenge is bigger than all those combined, he said.

The junior minister also said the hit television drama Normal People, based on the novel by Sally Rooney, has helped to showcase the country to a worldwide audience. The drama was filmed in Tubbercurry in Country Sligo.

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