Organisations representing different sections of the Irish tourism and hospitality industry have expressed significant disappointment at the decision of the new Government not to include tourism with one of the economic portfolios.

Under a reshuffle of departments responsibility for tourism will now rest with the Minister for Culture, Arts, Media, Tourism and Sport, Catherine Martin.

But Eoghan O'Mara Walsh, the chief executive of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, said it was regrettable that an industry that employs 265,000 people and contributes €9.3 billion to the economy has not been included within an economic ministry.

"Covid-19 has decimated the industry and there is a huge task ahead and to not be included within an economic or business portfolio is very disappointing," he said.

"Tourism is the economic lifeblood of regional Ireland and needs to be thought of as an engine of growth, exchequer returns, and employment," he said, adding that the July stimulus package promised in the Programme for Government needed to deliver for tourism.

The Restaurants' Association of Ireland (RAI) also expressed "huge disappointment" with what it described as a lack of economic focus for tourism in the new department realignment.

It said the exclusion of tourism from a standalone department that would have addressed the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis had send "shockwaves" across the sector.

"The restaurant and tourism Industry has been hit hardest by Covid-19 and the impact on our sector has had a decimating impact on every restaurant business across Ireland," said Adrian Cummins from the RAI.

"The industry requires urgent, immediate and continued economic assistance, hence not be included within an economic or business portfolio is very disappointing."

He added that the body has requested an urgent meeting with the new minister. 

Hoteliers echoed the remarks made by the other organisations.

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) called on the Government to put tourism at the top of its economic agenda.

"We are shocked and deeply disappointed that tourism has been placed in a six- faceted portfolio and not part of an economic and dedicated tourism ministry," said IHF President Elaina Fitzgerald.

"We would have expected tourism to have been included at least within an economic or business portfolio or had its own ministry, instead of being part of a multifaceted portfolio.

"This is a time when commitment to tourism should have been strengthened and not diluted."

The IHF reiterated its calls for a range of measures to be implemented to support the industry, including the continuation of the Government's wage subsidy scheme and the inclusion of seasonal employees in it.

It also wants the size of gatherings to be based on venue capacity and a reduction in the VAT rate for tourism to 5%.