IMPROVED SENTIMENT ACROSS ALL AREAS OF TOURISM SECTOR - Business sentiment in the tourism industry is on the rebound, according to the latest Fáilte Ireland Tourism Barometer. On top of that, the sector received a significant boost in Budget 2014 with the retention of the 9% VAT rate on tourism activities.

Shaun Quinn, chief executive of Fáilte Ireland, says the retention of the 9% VAT rate and the abolition of the airport tax were universally welcomed. "We undertook analysis which showed that the reduced VAT rate had the desired effect in boosting jobs. So we were confident of its retention," he states.

The latest tourism barometer, which was carried out before the Budget, showed positive sentiment across all sectors. "All three paid accommodation sectors are reporting business up this year and a positive outlook for the rest of the year, including even the B&B sector," Shaun Quinn says. He explains that the boost in the B&B sector was down to an improvement in their target markets - North America, Germany and France. "The domestic and the British markets are still the softest, although we are beginning to see a recovery in the UK market," he adds.

The Gathering has had a very positive impact on the sector and Fáilte Ireland is attempting to quantify the benefit to the industry. Shaun Quinn says the Gathering initiative would continue beyond 2013 to some extent. "Many communities have plans to continue their measures beyond this year. They will take what was good and see how it can be sustained locally," he concludes.


MORNING BRIEFS - Government departments in the US will be working to clear a backlog of economic data this week after the recent federal shutdown. Accurate jobs data for the past few weeks should be made available tomorrow. The US Federal Reserve has said that it does not really know when to begin tapering its stimulus programme until data begins to stream back in again or until the budget situation has been finally resolved. So that has kept stock markets happy - they have been surging ahead and the S&P500 closed at another record high on Friday. It is also peak week for the release of third-quarter earnings and all eyes will be on companies' revenue growth. McDonald's, Netflix, Halliburton are among those reporting today.

*** The criminal probe at investment bank JP Morgan Chase is not over yet, sources close to the investigation say. Over the weekend, the bank reached a tentative $13 billion deal with the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, to free the bank from mounting civil disputes but a criminal inquiry would be left unresolved. The $13 billion agreement - which is not yet final - would include $9 billion in payments and fines and a further $4 billion to cover settlement for mortgage bonds which the bank sold to investors. The criminal probe relates to whether JP Morgan misrepresented the quality of the mortgages it was packaging into bonds and selling on to investors. Meanwhile, the Financial Times is reporting today that the authorities could demand up to $6 billion in penalties from Bank of America.

*** A new digital postal service is being launched in Ireland today. Green Letterbox is a secure platform that allows businesses to send digital documents directly to consumers. It is claimed the service will reduce the cost of postage by up to 80%.

*** The UCD Smurfit Business School's MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 - at 81 - in the 2013 Financial Times Global Executive MBA Rankings. The school is the only Irish business school to be included in the global rankings. The Masters in Finance was placed 34 out of 40 by the Financial Times and the Masters in Management was ranked 56th out of 100.