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More than 1,300 businesses sign up for ‘Stay and Spend’ scheme

More than 1,300 businesses have registered for the Government’s Stay and Spend initiative, which aims to get people spending locally after the Covid-19 pandemic all but wiped out foreign holidays this year.

However, there are significant differences in the number of businesses signing up in different areas of the country.

About 350 of the total registered by last night were in the Dublin region, but Dublin 10 was home to only one of those. At the top end of the scale, there were 88 in Dublin 2.

Cork was the county outside the capital with the highest number of registrations at 154.

The initiative, which begins on October 1, allows an individual to claim back up to 20pc spent on food or hospitality.

A maximum of €125 in income tax credits can be claimed on submission to Revenue of receipts. This would mean a total spend of €625 by the individual in the sector. All submitted receipts must be for a minimum of €25 and alcohol is not included.

A company must be registered with Revenue for the scheme for its customers to be able to claim the money back.

Among the variety to have already done so are coffee chain outlets such as Costa, which has four branches registered in Dublin 18 alone, and upmarket hotels such as Castle Leslie in Co Monaghan.

Businesses on the islands, which were hard hit by the absence of a summer holiday season, are also looking to take advantage of the scheme, such as Joe Watty’s on Inis Mór in the Aran Islands.

Micheál Carrigy, Fine Gael’s tourism spokesperson in the Seanad, urged hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes that have not yet signed up to do so.

He pointed out that customers were more likely to visit a business taking part and called for an official advertisement, such as a sticker, to be used by a business to alert ­customers it was registered.

“It’s about stimulating spend in the local economy and giving incentives for people to stay in Ireland, staycation, eating out, getting these businesses back on their feet,” he told the Irish Independent.

“You’re more likely to go to somewhere that’s registered than not.

“It’s important that business know this,” he said.

“We want people out in the local economy, keeping jobs in the local economy and be able to benefit from their tax by keeping receipts where they spend.”

Graeme McQueen of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce said the numbers signing up in the city centre, compared with the suburbs, reflected how businesses there are especially concerned about their survival.

“Those figures mirror what we’re hearing and seeing in Dublin.

“The hospitality and retail sectors have been worse hit in the city centre than in the suburbs, so it’s not surprising to see there is more interest in the support from centrally located businesses which have seen footfall collapse,” he said.

“With tourism activity in Dublin all but wiped out over the past few months, and with very few office workers around, it remains a very tough environment for retail and hospitality businesses in the city centre.”

He encouraged all eligible business to register to ensure they’re taking advantage of all supports that are available.

“These supports could make the difference between a company surviving and being able to retain jobs over the coming months.”

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