This afternoon, Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has announced an unprecedented £213m rates support package for businesses.
The new scheme, developed with independent analysis from the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre, will see the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, including tourism, leisure and hospitality businesses including Belfast City, Belfast International and City of Derry Airports, pay no rates for the full financial year up until 31 March 2021.
This announcement has been warmly welcomed as a targeted rates holiday for tourism has been one of our asks of government. Since the start of this crisis, the NITA has been working to ensure tourism voice is heard and the industry is given the support it has needed. Having been at the forefront of the catastrophic economic impact of Covid-19 with income dropping to zero within a matter of weeks, and unlike other sectors of the economy, working from home or finding alternatives to generating income is not an option for tourism, our focus has been on financial support.
The above builds on the £100m scheme announced by the Finance Minister in March which gave all businesses a three-month rates holiday but this development is specific to sectors most impacted - Tourism, Retail and Hospitality. Our lobbying efforts have made progress and the Executive recognise the situation for the industry and have put support in place for example set up of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce, expedited payments of £25K grants and the announcement of the Hardship Fund (TBC). Our activities as a member of the Tourism Industry Council and Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group in the UK have seen the extension of the furlough scheme with added flexibility.
There is still more to do as we move towards the re-opening of our tourism attractions, experiences and welcoming visitors to explore and discover more about Northern Ireland and NITA will ensure that the voice of industry is at the centre of this planning.
For further details, please visit https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/news/murphy-announces-further-ps213m-business-rates-support