The Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media has recommended that the Government extend the 9% VAT rate up to 2025 to provide certainty for businesses in the hospitality and entertainment sectors as they reopen after the public health restrictions due to the Covid pandemic.

"The Impact of Covid-19 on the Hospitality and Entertainment Sectors" report makes 27 recommendations around financial and other supports for businesses and workers.

It also proposes new initiatives to encourage spending across hospitality and entertainment as well as reviews of legislation and guidelines affecting these sectors.

Among the recommendations, the Committee said that the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) should be doubled for tourism and hospitality businesses which will show a slow recovery until the end of 2021.

It also said the Local Authority Rates Waiver should be extended for a full year for businesses in the sector.

The Committee also urged the Government to establish a hospitality voucher scheme and a new public holiday to stimulate domestic spending in the tourism and hospitality sector.

It said the Government should review and modernise the licencing laws to reduce bureaucracy and to stimulate the night-time economy.

All additional licencing requirements relating to the hospitality sector, such as the outdoor seating licences, be simplified and moved online, it added.

The Committee wants the full rate of Pandemic Unemployment Payment to be maintained for workers in the entertainment sector until their industry is fully reopened and to ensure no workers in the sector are reduced to jobseeker status in the interim period.

A six-month payment break to be secured for workers and businesses in the hospitality and entertainment sectors to be able to meet mortgage repayments.

Niamh Smyth, Cathaoirleach of the Committee, said that the country's hospitality and entertainment sectors have suffered immense adversity as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Pubs, hotels, and restaurants are all part of an indigenous tourism industry that has been devastated by Covid-19. The Committee heard that, economically, tourism was hit first, hit hardest, and will take the longest to recover," Ms Smyth said.

"We heard evidence that hospitality businesses are on the brink of collapse, with some 50% of restaurants facing permanent closure – while revenue across the hotel sector fell by more than €2.5 billion in 2020, marking an unprecedented drop of 60%, while the immediate outlook remains exceptionally challenging in 2021," she said.

"The challenges facing the entertainment sector are no less severe. Evidence presented to the Committee notes that, of 55,000 workers in the arts, 58% have been wholly reliant on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment or Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme," he added.