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NITA September Overview

Posted 24 Sep, 2021

NITA continue to work with members, industry partners and government to act as the Voice for Northern Ireland Tourism. During the pandemic we have played a key role in highlighting the challenges the Tourism industry have faced and continue to face due to the effects of Covid-19 and Brexit. We continue to seek solutions and answers to help the industry survive, rebuild and recover.

International Travel Regulations

Reflecting on where we are at as we come to the end of another month, we are pleased that the NI Executive have followed the changes confirmed in England for the removal of pre-departure test for fully vaccinated travellers from non-red countries. We see this as a step in the right direction, however there are still discrepancies for international visitors travelling to NI via the Republic of Ireland, which is especially impacting on those travellers coming to the island of Ireland via tour operators. We are continuing to engage with government departments to find practical solutions to address these obstacles to travel.

There was positive news for travellers from the EU, who use an ID card for identification and travel to Northern Ireland via the Republic of Ireland, who will be able to continue to use their ID card as there will be no border checks on the land border. Note: For those travellers who travel direct to NI via air/ferry, they will be required to have a passport from 1st October 2021.

GB Campaigns

The GB Campaign are now in motion with the Tourism Ireland Northern Ireland EAGS campaign 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 Ireland.com are +30% since the campaign began with the Northern Ireland pages the most visited, which is encouraging to hear.

Tourism NI are ready to launch their campaigns on 4th October. The bookings from RoI have continued to increase from 2020 and this is an important campaign to continue the momentum for the shoulder season.

Extension of VAT rate at 12.5%

As you will be aware the VAT rate for tourism and hospitality will be raised to 12.5% on 1st October. This rate is due to expire on 31st March and will rise to the standard rate of 20%. We are campaigning with fellow organisations across the UK to make the case for the 12.5% rate to remain in place beyond 31st March. We will continue to lobby for this and hope we get the outcome we need for our industry to help recover from the financial loss due to the pandemic.

Holiday at Home Voucher Scheme

The High Street Stimulation Voucher which will launch on 27th September, can be used for accommodation and experiences/attractions as long as it is paid in person or via the phone. It cannot be used where you book and pay online.

The Holiday at Home scheme which is currently going through government approval, is due to be launched in the Autumn. This will be slightly different as it will be based on first come basis with a set number of vouchers available for both the accommodation element and the experience/attraction element. People will need to have completed, paid for and claimed back before end of March 2021. Businesses must be accredited under ‘We’re Good to Go’ to be eligible for upcoming Tourism NI schemes, including the Holiday at Home voucher scheme.

If you are interested in taking part in the scheme or wish to register for the ‘We’re Good to Go’ and are experiencing difficulties, then please do get in touch with us.

Hospitality and Tourism Commitment

NITA recently supported the launch of a new employer commitment by leading hospitality and tourism operators in an endeavour to change the wider perception of the sector and commit industry to work together and become an ‘employer of choice’, providing good quality training, work-life balance and support to their people.

We understand the shortage of skills and staff issues the industry are facing issues so we would encourage you to sign up to the initiative to help overcome these challenges. If you need any further information or would like to find out more about this then click here or get in touch with us to find out more.

Industry Opportunities

National Lottery Days Out SchemeAs mentioned in out weekly updates and social channels, VisitBritain are running a £10 million National Lottery Days Out campaign. Under the scheme, £25 vouchers will be available to National Lottery Lotto players this autumn to redeem against a day out in the UK, backed by a multi-million-pound national advertising campaign. All UK-based attractions are eligible to take part, subject to availability and meeting campaign criteria.

More details are available here but do let us know if you would like more information or have questions about the scheme.

Hospitality Exchange 12 -13 October NI Hotels Federation are running the very popular Hospitality Exchange event in person at the Crowne Plaza. With a great line-up of speakers make sure to book your place here.

Looking forward...

TNI have published the latest wave (Wave 5) of their research to understand consumer sentiment, behaviours and attitudes towards travel among NI and ROI consumers from 12-27 August 2021.

Key findings suggest that Covid anxiety remains relatively stable in both markets. Results point to high levels of ROI and domestic trips taken in NI during 2021. Almost half of visitors were experiencing their first NI holiday/short break which is encouraging that NI is now considered as a place they wish to explore. High levels of visitor satisfaction were reported for NI accommodation, food and drink. Our key selling point ‘value for money’ continues to be strong compared to competitors. Overall, this research suggests Consumers’ travel intentions for NI are positive for the autumn and winter period.