The Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance welcomed the Economy Minister’s announcement today of a Tourism Industry Recovery Steering Group to address the challenges that will face the industry as restrictions to movement are lifted.
Chief Executive Joanne Stuart said that they had been lobbying for this move and were relieved that the Minister has acted so swiftly.
“Minister Diane Dodds will hopefully bring the rest of the Assembly Ministers along with her in recognising the vital impact that Tourism makes to the Northern Ireland Economy. Tourism accounts for around 10% of total employment, 70% of which is outside of Belfast underlining the importance of tourism across our region.
“We estimate that the Tourism Industry will have lost £500m in visitor spend given the timing of the outbreak and the impact to travel.
“Tourism businesses have 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.
“This Steering Group is essential to plot the way forward in an informed and rational manner. A Tourism Recovery Support package will be required over the longer term as the industry progresses to reopen and rebuild and we look forward to working with the Minister to develop a resourced route map forward.
“In addition, we need to address the decreased capacity of regional connectivity which will be a barrier to rebuilding our GB market. This is critical for consumer confidence and our reputation as a destination that is easy to get to for both leisure and business tourism.
“Aviation has been one of the hardest hit industries and given our geographic location we will be severely disadvantaged. Once again, the industry is calling for abolishment of APD on short haul flights, a fund for air route development and high-speed rail links with Dublin.
“As the first to be hit, Tourism could also take the longest time to fully recover. Tourism is a major job creator across our region and has shown its resilience in the past. Industry is ready to meet the challenges head on working alongside the Minister and her officials and ensure that once again Northern Ireland is a destination of choice both at home and abroad.”