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NITA's Key Areas of Focus For Tourism Recovery

Posted 17 Jun, 2020

Following the announcement that tourism will reopen on 3rd July with self-catering the week before, it is all systems go as we prepare to throw open our doors and welcome visitors from/to Northern Ireland. NITA will continue to chart the course for the tourism industry and our key areas of focus are:

Tourism Agenda
As part of both the Tourism Recovery Steering Group and Working Group, we are working to ensure this public-private taskforce works with speed to address the challenges of operating tourism businesses and provides guidelines for reopening to enable businesses to asses risk and implement mitigation measures. We are asking for social distancing rule of 2m to be reduced to 1m to enable businesses to be able to be financially viable when reopening.

Tourism Recovery Support Package
Special consideration must be given for the tourism industry given its unique position, which unlike any other part of the economy, was hit first at the end of the quietest part of the tourism calendar with reserves at a minimum and investments already made. It will also face a longer recovery period and far bigger challenges in restarting under continued social distancing, reliance on seasonal income and lower consumer travel confidence. Our home markets are (NI/RoI/GB) expected to be the first to recover, with international travel not due to start until 2021. It will take time to rebuild tourism and a Recovery Support Package is needed to help maximise opportunity in the short term and support businesses through the winter period. This should include:

  • Support for Tourism businesses to develop new business models, refining product to meet consumer needs
  • Consumer insight and sentiment research, of both communities in our beauty hot spots and domestic visitors and inform marketing campaigns to reassure and encourage home staycations.
  • Employee Support - NITA acknowledges that CJRS has been a lifeline for many tourism businesses. The tapering of the scheme should allow businesses to raise activity levels, alongside demand, although businesses will have to make tough decisions based on the financial viability of reopening. Tourism businesses will not be able to make up lost business this year and will need continued financial support after October.
  • Although a business rates holiday has been announced, it is important that all tourism businesses will benefit from the scheme, therefore the definition must be clarified
  • Research in national and international markets in regards to consumer confidence, travel and barriers to travel
  • A doubling of the budget for Marketing and Promotion of NI as destination in our home markets and overseas with incentive promotions to encourage and give confidence to our local market to engage with our tourism offering. GB must be seen as a home market for NI.

Lifting of 14 Day Quarantine
Along with the wider industry nationally, we are calling for the lifting of the 14 day quarantine and the urgent consideration of air bridges, and the continued protection of the common travel area.

Regional Connectivity
GB is our largest market outside of NI and increasing our regional connectivity, both air and sea is critical for us to build consumer confidence and our reputation as a destination that is easy to get to for both leisure and business tourism. Aviation has been one of the hardest hit industries and given our geographic location we will be severely disadvantaged. We are calling for:

  • Abolishment of APD on short haul flights
  • Fund for air route development

Reduction in VAT
In addition, to provide a boost to tourism and address competitiveness, particularly from the Republic of Ireland, we are calling for a reduction in VAT.

As the voice for tourism in Northern Ireland, we will be lobbying for the above and will be raising these asks with the Ministers of Finance and Economy, as well as nationally. If there are other key areas you wish to address, please do not hesitate to get in touch.