NITA October Overview

Posted 01 Nov, 2021

Reflecting on the past month – it has been a busy one with some positive steps forward in terms of relaxations, return of more live industry events and some welcomed changes for the Tourism and related industries in the Chancellor’s budget.

In terms of NITA updates, we have just had our Annual AGM and we are looking forward to holding our first physical Member Forum since the pandemic occurred on 10th November at the Grand Opera House.

We also attended the NI Travel & Tourism Awards at Slieve Donard Resort and Spa last month, where I was honoured to receive the NI Tourism Special Achievement Award.

Below is a roundup of some of the key updates and developments helping to move things forward for the industry.

NEW DIRECTORS APPOINTED TO NITA BOARD - At our AGM on 26th October, 3 new directors were appointed to the NITA board. These are:

  • Michelle Simpson – Chair Visit Derry
  • Allison Dowling – Director Communications and Marketing Belfast Harbour
  • Catherine Burns – Chair NI Tour Guides Association

NITA MEMBERS FORUM EVENT - We are delighted to confirm that our Member Forum will take place on 10th November from 9am-1pm at the newly refurbished Grand Opera House, Belfast.

We are also pleased to confirm that the Economy Minister will be attending and there will be an opportunity for you to submit questions. We will be exploring the importance of Cultural and Creative Tourism and over lunch we will have round table discussions on the future of tourism and identifying the key opportunities and the challenges to overcome as we rebuild our tourism economy.

This is a member only event so please email if you wish to attend and advise of any special dietary and accessibility requirements.

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL UPDATE - There has been some movement with the easing of restrictions for International Travel. As from 31st October, those who are fully vaccinated will have the choice of taking either a lateral flow or PCR test on or before day 2 of their arrival. Another welcomed change is the remaining ‘red list’ countries will now be removed as of 1st November. More details can be viewed here.

In terms of exemption for tour operators, there has been no movement on this, but we continue to lobby for change.

AIR PASSENGER DUTY - The Chancellor announced a planned change to Air Passenger Duty, as part of the budget, which will be reduced by 50% from 2023. NITA have lobbied since our inception to have APD on domestic flights abolished for Northern Ireland and this announcement, although a step in the right direction, does not go far enough. Given the catastrophic impact that the pandemic has had on travel, waiting until 2023 to implement the reduction does nothing to aid the recovery of aviation in the next eighteen months.

BUDGET REVIEW - Last week saw the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak set out his budget. The positive aspect is the move to multi-year budgets, which enables better planning of spend over the next three years. According to our Finance Minister when compared to the Executive’s 2021/22 Budget there will be an additional £450m, £670m and £866m for day-to-day spending over the next three years.

We have prepared a summary of the budget highlighting some of the key points relating to the Travel, Tourism and related industries which can be viewed here.

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM - Belfast is now recognised in the top 20 global sustainable destinations. After hard work and dedication from Visit Belfast and Belfast City Council, the city has moved up the scale and now ranks #19 out of 73 destinations worldwide by the Global Destination Sustainability Index.

This illustrates the city’s tourism ambitions to be a sustainable destination of the future.

We have a special update from Visit Belfast next month on Sustainability and some tips on how to make your tourism offering more sustainable. However, in the meantime Tourism Northern Ireland are hosting a free webinar on Sustainable Tourism in Northern Ireland – see industry opportunities section below for more details.

HOSPITALITY EXCHANGE - It was great to see the return of this 2-day conference as a live event and we delighted to attend and take part in the panel session.

Although there is a lot of work to be done in the tourism and hospitality industry to recover from the effects of the pandemic, these challenges are recognised, and initiatives devised to overcome these.

Read our special feature in this month's newsletter summarising the findings and a link to view the 2020/21 hotel report.

TOURISM IRELAND GB CAMPAIGN (UPDATE) - Update from Tourism Ireland GB Campaign - the EAGS campaign has been live in GB since 01 September.

The feedback from industry and Tourism Ireland is showing positive results with business seeing an increase in bookings from GB. The campaign is live across key channels and in partnership with all major air, sea, travel trade and OTA partners. Visitors to have increased by 30% since the campaign began with the Northern Ireland pages the most visited, which is encouraging to hear.

STAY AT HOME AND ATTRACTIONS SCHEME - One of the schemes we are still waiting on is a launch date for the Stay at Home and Attraction Voucher scheme. There was some media coverage on this earlier this month. NITA have written to the minister to seek clarity on when the scheme will be launched. You can view our statement here. We are awaiting a response.


ABTA Decarbonisation of Tourism Webinar

Following the launch of ABTA’s Tourism for Good report in 2020 (Tourism for Good | ABTA), ABTA are holding a webinar that will explore ‘Decarbonising tourism’ showcasing action across the industry to transition towards net zero. 11th November 2021 from 10.30am to 12.30pm

We are delighted that as part of ABTA’s membership of NITA, that NITA members are able to attend this webinar free of charge.

Moderated by ABTA’s Head of Sustainability, Clare Jenkinson, you will hear about innovation in tour operator business models and how tour operators can set and meet science-based carbon targets and further examples from hotels, aviation, ground transport, and tourist destinations.

To register for the event go to ABTA webinar: Decarbonising Tourism | Events | ABTA and use the code NITA100

Tourism Northern Ireland Webinars (free)

Keep an eye on Tourism Northern Ireland Events & Webinars page for free events that will help enhance and grow your business. Some of the upcoming events include;

Digital Innovation Masterclass

  • Thursday 11th November 2-3pm
  • More details and to register click here

Sustainable Tourism in Northern Ireland

  • Thursday 18th November, 2pm
  • More details and to register click here

GB Market Review

  • Tuesday 23rd November 10-11.30am
  • More details and to register click here

Office of National Statistics Review of Tourism Information

ONS are running a couple of webinars to provide you with the opportunity to hear from them how they are planning to improve the tourism figures that they produce and to tell them the sort of information that would be most beneficial to you or your members. The two webinar dates are:

  • Tuesday 16th November 2021 – 2.30pm – 3.30pm
  • Tuesday 23rd November 2021 – 2.30pm – 3.30pm

If you would like to attend any of these events, please email address ONS on telling them which event you would like to attend.