Commenting on the remarks made by Minister for Health Robin Swann, NITA CEO Joanne Stuart said
‘There is already much uncertainty and distress within Tourism and Travel and the sectors that depend on it, and we need the Executive to provide a confident pathway to recovery and strong collaborative leadership.
These remarks come ahead of the UK Government’s Global Travel Taskforce report, which is due to be published in early April, which will set out the framework for the reopening of international travel. The Northern Ireland government is part of this taskforce and is contributing to how the UK will approach global connectivity and it is important that the NI Executive provide clarity on the way forward at that time.
Travel connectivity is critical for the economy of Northern Ireland and we need airlines and ferry operators to have confidence that there will be the business to sustain existing routes and develop new routes if we are to have the ability to grow tourism and the wider economy. Northern Ireland is already at a competitive disadvantage due to the double charging of APD on short haul flights and the challenges rebuilding our connectivity capacity.
As we have seen, the environment can change rapidly – none of us for example expected to see the vaccination programme roll-out at such an accelerated pace.
We call on the NI Executive to engage in a meaningful way with industry with a focus on the travel restrictions with GB and clearly articulate the conditions that need to be met to enable travel throughout the UK, which will be critical to the survival of tourism businesses this summer.’