Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Tourism, and Sport Marc Mac Sharry TD says any recommendations from the Aviation Recovery Taskforce should be delivered sooner considering the importance of aviation to the tourism and hospitality sector nationwide.

He commented, “Covid-19 has been hugely disruptive to normal life, and among the most heavily impacted have been the 265k people who work in Ireland’s tourism sector and the tens of thousands of people who work in our aviation sector. The EU Commission has estimated a loss of revenue for the tourism sector of between €275-400 billion euros.

“Since March, there have been considerable curtailments on people’s ability to move between countries, even within the European Union. This was necessary to control the spread of this deadly virus but many European countries have begun to ease these restrictions. Within Ireland, a 14-day quarantine period is still mandatory for both Irish residents and visitors arriving from abroad. This restriction will be economically costly, particularly for those heavily reliant on international visitors.

“On May 15th the European Commission released a communication regarding the “phased and coordinated approach for restoring freedom of movement and lifting internal border controls” and has called for co-ordination between member states on this issue. Given the importance of the tourism and hospitality sector to Ireland it is essential that we are not placed at a competitive disadvantage relative to the rest of Europe.

“The Commission has also asked member states to consider alternatives to blanket quarantine requirements, such as free travel between member states with similar epidemiological situations (travel bridges), cross-border contact tracing provisions, and better testing. Public health must be paramount in our considerations.

“I welcomed the establishment of the Aviation Recovery Taskforce to lead the recovery of the aviation sector. However, I have serious concerns regarding the timeline for this taskforce to do its work and submit recommendations to government by July 10th. The aviation sector needs recommendations in days, not weeks.

“I am calling on Minister Ross and the government to expedite this process and to allow this group to make recommendations sooner rather than later. Only then will the tourism and aviation sectors be able to plan for the coming months,” concluded Deputy Mac Sharry.