Ireland was missing out on big-budget productions of movies and TV shows from streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime because a cap on a tax relief scheme was too low.
In a pre-budget plea, tourism and culture minister Catherine Martin said feedback from an official trip she made to L.A. suggested Ireland was simply not being considered because of its €70 million cap on tax relief for productions.
She said recent years had seen streaming companies in particular making ever-larger scale productions with correspondingly larger budgets.
In a letter to then-Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe last August, she wrote: "Feedback from Irish visual effects companies at my recent trip to Los Angeles, is that we are losing out to other countries in attracting major internationally mobile productions costing in the region of €100m. They do not consider Ireland, because of the cap."
She said inflation was also generating pressure and that the cap for eligible expenditure under Section 481 needed to be raised to €100 million to help restore the country's reputation as an attractive filming location.
Minister Martin wrote: "Raising the cap now would send a strong international message that aligns with and bolsters our infrastructure, facilities, experienced crews, creative talent and beautiful scenery."
She also asked for a special "uplift" scheme to encourage TV and film production outside of Dublin to be extended.
Under the scheme, film and TV makers could get a 5% credit for taking their work outside of the "main Dublin/Wicklow production hub".
Minister Martin said plans to taper off the uplift scheme could be problematic based on further feedback from her LA trade mission.
She wrote: "The reduced levels of 3% in 2022 and 2% in 2023 (zero in 2024) are insufficient to offset the costs of bringing the most expert crew from the Dublin area into the regions for live filming."
The minister also called for the retention of the special 9% rate of VAT for the tourism industry to be maintained throughout this year.
She said that while tourism had bounced back well after a "harrowing two years", that visitor volumes were not back to the levels of before the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The outlook … [for 2023] looks challenging with a number of global economic headwinds likely to impact consumer demand," she said.
Minister Martin said as well that any moves to support the car rental industry, which had been at the centre of controversy last summer over sky-high rates, should be "environmentally sustainable".
She said there was scope within vehicle registration tax reform to "further incentivise the move to low or no emission vehicles" as part of a wider sustainable tourism policy.
On the tax exemption for artists, Ms Martin asked for it to be extended to people who make hand-crafted uilleann pipes and harps.
She said both were recognised by UNESCO as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity and their "trained craftspeople" deserved support.
Minister Martin also called for an increase in the betting tax from 2% to 3% to help fund largescale sports infrastructure.
She said most of the money raised from the existing 2% levy went to the horse and dog-racing sectors and that additional money should go to the wider sports community.
Among the schemes she said merited support were the provision of multi-use astro-pitches in larger towns, and investment in the Sport Ireland campus, including a new velodrome.
Asked about the records, a spokesperson for the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media said they had nothing further to add.
- reporting Ken Foxe