As we are now well into the first week of Phase 2, we must recognize how wonderful it is to see so many of Listowel’s wonderful businesses reopened. The incredible Listowel Tidy Towns group are back out getting Listowel back to its best, there is real sense of everyone pulling together, which has been the greatest thing to come from the pandemic.
There has been much publicity surrounding the proposed plans for towns across Kerry to make changes to their streets to enable safe social distancing. It is important to stress that the number one priority for Listowel is the safety of our residents and visitors while supporting our fantastic businesses. The Listowel Business & Community Alliance along with Business representatives from Listowel met with Kerry County Council at Listowel Community Centre last Monday afternoon. A number of strong recommendations were made relating to the removal of parking spaces from the town during the 1.5 hour meeting. Businesses and residents on both Church Street and William Street have expressed serious concern relating to the removal of parking spaces. The issue of support for special needs services in the town was also raised by Kay Sayers of the Alliance Retail & Enterprise Group. Listowel is home to a number of services including the Nano Nagle and Kerry Parents & Friends Association who rely on easy access to the town centre for their service users. Revisions based on these points are currently being made to the plan before it goes for submission at the end of this week.
Safe Destination Training is being offered to tourism staff throughout the county by Kerry Education & Training Board, with 3 separate courses being delivered live online free of charge. Businesses who complete the three courses will be awarded the Safe Destination Badge by Kerry County Council. The objective is to position Kerry as an international leader in terms of best practice and its commitment to Visitor Safety, Hygiene and Cleanliness.
Course #1 – Managing Compliance for COVID-19 for Manager / Supervisor / Assigned Staff Member.
Course #2 – Infection Prevention and Control for Senior Managers, etc.
Course #3 – General Safe Stay Training Course for all staff.
Link to the Expressions of Interest Form: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/fe34abd1859947918b41fbac8331bc4f
Kerry County Council has been working with the Kerry Tourism Industry Federation, IHF, Fáilte Ireland, Kerry ETB and other agencies on a range of initiatives which are outlined by Michael Scannell, Director of Economic & Community Development, in the attached letter.
A priority is to position Kerry as an international leader in terms of best practice and its commitment to Visitor Safety, Hygiene and Cleanliness. These concerns feature prominently in recent consumer research both domestically and internationally and Kerry aims to be ahead of the curve in addressing these concerns while we continue to live with COVID-19.
A new Safe Destination Training Programme for tourism staff has been devised to assist Kerry business owners and staff prepare for the “New Normal” that will be expected by our visitors. We must aim to exceed their expectations. Three courses have been prepared by the Kerry Education and Training Board and are / will be delivered free-of charge by their Business Support Unit over the coming weeks. Businesses that complete all three courses will qualify for the Safe Destination Badge from Kerry County Council. If you would like to participate in one or all the courses please click on this link below and complete the online Expression of Interest form as soon as possible: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/fe34abd1859947918b41fbac8331bc4f
Statement from Tourism Recovery Taskforce
The Tourism Recovery Taskforce (TRT) was appointed by Minister Ross and Minister of State Griffin on 20 May. The purpose of the Taskforce is to prepare a Tourism Recovery Plan 2021-2023 for submission to the Ministers including a set of recommendations on how best the Irish tourism sector can adapt and recover from the unprecedented impact resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. Conscious of the existential crisis facing the tourism industry the TRT has already met twice and will continue to meet weekly.
In its initial discussions, the TRT has focused on priorities for the survival phase and the issues which businesses are grappling with as they seek to reopen. The Taskforce has had very informative discussions and heard from all members and through engagement with industry what they consider to be the imminent concerns for businesses. Aside from the overriding issue of financial viability, it is already clear that certain matters are emerging as urgent in the short term.
Acknowledging the excellent work done by Government in controlling the spread of the virus and its Roadmap for Reopening, at its meeting on June 3rd the TRT agreed that there are a number of specific items which could usefully be recommended into Government to inform it as to how tourism can be assisted in the short-term to emerge from the current crisis. In doing this, the Taskforce took cognisance of the fact that, by making some changes to the measures currently set out, tens of thousands of additional jobs could ultimately be saved.
The issues which the TRT is asking the Government to consider are:
- Move to 1m Social Distancing (and apply additional precautionary measures, as set out in Protocols due to be published by Fáilte Ireland).
- Accelerate Phase 4 “Social / Recreational” re-openings to Phase 3. This would mean hotels and other visitor accommodation and attractions such as museums and galleries would reopen by June 29th.
- Accelerate Phase 5 “Social / Recreational” re-openings to Phase 4. This would mean that pubs and bars could reopen by July 20th.
- Move “Extend travel to outside your region” from Phase 4 to Phase 3. This would mean that people could travel for domestic holidays from June 29th.
- Delay the school re-opening to week beginning August 31st. This would allow the domestic holiday season to maximise August.
- Allow schools the option of taking the week long October mid-term break during one of two weeks (rather than just one week). This would facilitate families wishing to holiday in Ireland.
- Remove the 2 weeks of self-isolation recommendation for travellers from overseas countries that are considered to be “safe” points of origin.
- Re-introduce a reduced rate of VAT to stimulate demand in the tourism and hospitality sector.
Commenting, the Chairperson of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce Ruth Andrews said:
“It is clear that the Taskforce has a great deal of work to get through and when we come up with a Recovery Plan I want to be sure that we will have taken everything we need into consideration in that intervening period which is crucial to restarting tourism albeit with limitations. We aim to do this as quickly and efficiently as we can. It is clear that the issues we are highlighting are urgent from the perspective of those tourism businesses which are evaluating whether and how to reopen.
As a group we fully respect the need to maintain appropriate public health measures. However, we would not be doing our job properly if we did not alert Government as to the importance of these issues in the short term. We welcome the measures taken by Government thus far which have helped many businesses to survive up to this point. However, by taking these additional steps now, the Government would be saving so many businesses and preserving jobs in Irish tourism”.
The Local Enterprise Offices
Additional funding has been secured towards the Trading Online Vouchers.
Following a successful trial last week, Kerry ETB now has two courses ready for retail businesses of all sizes in the Kerry area to support them in managing COVID compliance in their businesses. Availing of this course will also enable the retailers to gain ‘Safe Shopping’ recognition. As many of the retailers are already opening, or planning on opening, Kerry ETB will FastTrack all applications. Please find attached two documents for your reference which outline the courses:
- Managing COVID-19 Compliance –Retail
- Principle of Hygiene/PPE-Retail
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