Speaking after the announcement from the Executive of another two-week circuit breaker from 27th November, Joanne Stuart CEO NITA said:
‘What we now need to see from the NI Executive is a clear strategy to navigate through this pandemic with strong leadership. Our tourism industry is in survival mode and requires additional support with an agreed exit strategy and clear criteria not lurching from week to week with decision taken within hours of a deadline.
There is clear evidence to support that tourism is not the main contributor to covid-19 cases or transmission, but we acknowledge that we all have our part to play in suppressing the virus and ensuring our hospitals are able to cope with increased pressures. However, the mixed messages from the Executive do nothing to enable businesses to make critical decisions and plan how to ensure their businesses survive the next couple of months.
Businesses are still waiting for financial support for the current circuit breaker and it is imperative that these schemes are expedited and further schemes are developed and launched as quickly as possible. Bills don’t stop even though businesses are closed and they need to be paid.
We are calling on the Minister for the Economy to reconvene the Tourism Recovery Steering and Working Groups to work constructively with the tourism industry to ensure that businesses can survive to start the recovery in 2021. Tourism welcomed around 5 million visitors and delivered over £1bn in visitor spend in 2019, supporting over 70,000 jobs across Northern Ireland. Without our world leading cultural and heritage attractions, experiences, accommodation, connectivity and marketing to attract visitors then many sectors of the economy, including hospitality and retail, will lose hundreds of millions of pounds in income and put thousands of jobs at risk.
This is about survival so tourism is able to rebuild in 2021 and play its part as a key regional economic driver and job generator.’