Ryanair Surprised By 'Flight Tax Scrapping'

Budget flyer Ryanair has been taken by surprise at the news that the Irish Republic's Minister for Tourism is advocating scrapping the controversial €10 travel tax.

Mary Hanafin told Fáilte Ireland's Tourism Conference that the tax could be scrapped, but only if those opposed to it come up with ways of boosting visitor numbers to Ireland.

Ryanair expressed surprise at the announcement, and said the Minister was now meeting with both Ryanair and Aer Lingus to discuss how to reverse the "alarming decline" in tourism.

Ryanair's Stephen McNamara said: "Ryanair has also submitted proposals directly to Minister Hanafin to deliver 6m additional passengers annually across the three Irish airports, reversing almost all of the traffic losses suffered at the main Irish airports over the past two years under this Government's €10 tourist tax."

Meanwhile, Tourism Ireland has set a target of a 4% growth in visitor numbers and a 5% growth in overseas tourism revenue for 2011.

Launching the plan this week, Tourism Ireland boss, Niall Gibbons explained that an improving European travel market and a return to economic growth in the US will help tourism next year coupled with an intensive promotional campaign.

Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin said that aspects of the Government's Four Year Plan such as a reduction in the Minimum Wage, extension of PRSI exemption and an acceleration of Rates Revaluation would also help tourism industry operators.

Ms Hanafin said: "Britain accounts for 50% of tourist numbers and 40% of revenue and Tourism Ireland plans to fight hard to revive the market next year with campaigns that will emphasise the value aspect of Irish holidays.

"It also plans to target the USA, Germany and France as key markets. It will also offer incentives to airlines to open new routes into Ireland following a decline in services this year, particularly Ryanair flights through Dublin and Shannon."

It is also planned to invite 1,500 travel journalists to Ireland, to promote the St. Patrick's Festival and to place a marketing emphasis on golf.


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