The Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance have announced an urgent Coronavirus Summit for its members on Tuesday 10th March and are calling for Economy Minister Diane Dodds to support action to protect the summer holiday season for the local £1bn tourism industry.
Making the announcement ahead of meeting the Economy Minister tomorrow, Chief Executive Dr Joanne Stuart said that the Coronavirus is already affecting the travel arrangements of tourists planning to visit Northern Ireland with the industry experiencing cancellations and ‘no-shows’ already.
She contends that we need to be proactive in reassuring visitors that Northern Ireland is open for business and taking the opportunity to showcase our destination to holiday makers in GB and Ireland and in particular Northern Ireland who are going to be looking for options at home this year.
“Failte Ireland are currently investing significantly more than Tourism NI and are running a promotional campaign for 40 weeks compared to our 12 weeks. We need to increase our marketing effort in GB and Ireland which will require additional investment to raise awareness of the great experience visitors from GB can have in Northern Ireland, right on their doorstep.
“It is also imperative we develop initiatives to support tourism organisations financially. Traditionally January to March are the quietest in the Tourism calendar. We are now seeing cancellations well into the summer season which will impact significantly on cash flow and reserves.
“The majority of businesses in tourism are SME’s and will not have the financial reserves to see them through this year.
“We are confident that once the Coronavirus recedes, tourism will bounce back, as it did following the SARS outbreak in 2002/2003, but it is imperative that Government puts plans and initiatives in place to provide support for our tourism businesses during this difficult time,” she warns.