As the fourth round of talks between the UK and EU over a permanent Brexit deal begins, Dr Joanne Stuart OBE, Chief Executive of NITA, has been engaging locally and nationally to ensure that the voice of tourism is part of the discussion, particularly with regard to Skills and Services.
The focus of the negotiations to date has primarily been on trade of goods and unfettered access between GB and NI, however, recognising the threat to Tourism of both post Brexit trading and economic damage from coronavirus, NITA has been working to identify the potential impacts of the current negotiations to Tourism. The main areas are:
Seamless travel across the border - with 52% of visitors to Northern Ireland arrive via Dublin and travel to Northern Ireland using coach, car or rail, it is imperative that there are no barriers to crossing the border and the Common Travel Area continues to provide seamless travel across the Island of Ireland.
Travel to Northern Ireland – NITA is advocating for a services agreement with the EU to enable travellers from the EU to be able to continue to travel visa free to Northern Ireland as tourists. This is currently included in UK Immigration Policy. We are also urging for co-operation on VISAs between UK and Ireland for international tourists, the majority of whom travel to Northern Ireland via Dublin.
Sentiment - NITA is also advocating the need for promotional messaging to reassure potential tourists that NI is both open for business and a good place to visit to address the negative sentiment that BREXIT has created. Skills – NITA is working with the Hospitality and Tourism Skills Network (HATS) to ensure the requirements for Tourism are addressed within the Shortage Occupation List and the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications.
Data Sharing – The successful review of Data Adequacy, which is running in parallel to the negotiations of the Free Trade Agreement, is critical to enable the continued free flow of data to ensure a smooth booking process for tourism providers dealing with visitors wishing to travel from EU.
NITA’s Chief Executive currently sits on both the Northern Ireland EU Exit Stakeholder Group, the Tourism Ireland Brexit Taskforce and the UK Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group ensuring that the voice of tourism in Northern Ireland is contributing to the discussions