Peter Fitzpatrick has criticised the government decision to reverse the VAT rates for tourism from 9% to 13.5% in Budget 2019.
Deputy Fitzpatrick said, "It was widely reported that the VAT measures introduced a number of years ago to help the tourism and hospitality were to be reversed and unfortunately that was the case in yesterday’s budget speech.
"The Minister, in his speech, stated that tens of thousands of extra jobs were created in the tourism sector since the introduction of this measure in 2011 and that the sector has never supported more employment than it does today.
"The sector alone supports 240,000 jobs and provides balanced regional growth as confirmed by the Minister Pascal Donohoe.
"Why the Government would threaten this by reversing a measure that was designed to protect and support our tourism sector in the first place does not make any economic sense at all", Deputy Fitzpatrick continued.
"The Minister stated that this increase will allow him reduce his reliance on other taxes like corporation tax and prevent increases there.
"In other words", Fitzpatrick continued, "the Government want to increase the costs on local Irish indigenous businesses so that we do not have to increase taxes on companies who are already paying the lowest rate of corporation tax in the EU.
"I was very disappointed today when the Minister did not acknowledge the threat of Brexit to the tourism sector, particularly along the border area."
Deputy Fitzpatrick went on, "There is no doubt that Brexit will be very challenging to the tourism sector and now more than ever the sector needs all the supports and help to maintain its growth.
"Coming from the constituency of Louth and East Meath I know better than most the value of a thriving tourism sector. In my constituency we have some of the best tourist attractions in the country.
"In the north of the county we have the Carlingford Peninsula with attractions like Carlingford village, the Cooley mountains, the many walking routes in the area and of course the new greenway from Carlingford to Omeath.
"Further south we have the historic towns of Dundalk & Drogheda, the many attractions of the Boyne valley and of course the seaside villages of Laytown and Bettystown. These areas suffered greatly when the economy collapsed and we were faced with years of austerity."
With Brexit less than six months away, Fitzpatrick said, "As Great Britain plan to leave the EU, there is a level of uncertainty around Brexit about what this means for.
"We must also consider what this means for our future tourism and hospitality in. We are still in the process of achieving sustainability and a lot of our tourism and hospitality is seasonal.
"It’s undoubtable that we rely on tourism from the UK market, with tourists from the UK being are our largest overseas market. As the Euro has become increasingly more expensive than Sterling, visitors are spending less.
"Since the announcement of Brexit in 2016, UK visitors have reduced. The UK market is a challenge.
The local Independent TD finished by saying:
"With this in mind I cannot understand or agree with the decision to reverse the VAT rates from 9% to 13.5%.
"This measure was a great help to the tourist sector at the time of its introduction and I firmly believe it should be retained to help the industry cope with the undoubted effects of a looming Brexit. I for one cannot support this measure and will not be voting in support of it."