The NI Tourism Alliance are seeking assurance from the Minister for the Economy that the long-anticipated Stay at Home and Attraction scheme will be launched this year. Announced by Diane Dodds as part of the Tourism Recovery Action Plan at the end of May, this scheme will see the public able to apply for vouchers to put towards short breaks and visits to attractions.
CEO of NITA, Joanne Stuart said ‘We have all come through a challenging time and the ‘Stay at Home and Attraction scheme’ is something that people have been greatly looking forward to. The scheme will enable people to take a break over the winter, offering great value as well as benefiting the sector over what is traditionally a quieter time for tourism.
As we move into the winter season, the importance of the planned scheme is paramount for the accommodation and attractions sector. The demand from our home markets since reopening has been a lifeline to the tourism industry, however this must be set in context that the industry had to close for around 50% of 2020 and 2021. Covid-19 mitigations and social distancing requirements, which are only just being relaxed, has constrained the capacity of businesses to operate fully and incurs considerable extra costs. In addition, the anticipated return of international visitors has not been realised due to the disparity of travel regulations across the Island of Ireland.
NITA are simply seeking clarity for our members on when the scheme will be launched. We know the scheme will be restricted to a set number of vouchers and any opportunity to increase the funding will give more people the opportunity to avail of an excellent opportunity and provide much needed demand for the industry which would be welcomed.