NITA Welcome the Roadmap, but Engagement with Industry is Critical

Posted 02 Mar, 2021

NITA, the voice for tourism in Northern Ireland, today welcomed the publication of the Executive’s ‘Pathway out of Restrictions’ which sets out a staged approach to the reopening of society and the economy.

NITA CEO Joanne Stuart said:-

"It is a disappointment that there are no indicative dates in the roadmap, however we understand the reasons for caution and for our members it is critical that when businesses reopen they are able to remain open for the long term as the costs associated with opening and closing will be the death knell for businesses already struggling to survive. The Pathway provides more clarity on the data led approach to decision making and a specific Travel and Tourism staged approach is to be welcomed.

The commitment for the Executive to engage with industry on this framework and to take a risk based approach to reopening will be critical in order to maximise the opportunity to recover and rebuild the tourism and travel industry.

There is further detail that is required and we will be engaging with executive ministers to provide the following;

  • Clarity on conditions that must be met to enable reopening of each phase – the plan lays out the principals and factors that will applied to decision making. We now need the Executive to set out how they will measure impact and the levels required to ease restrictions
  • An appropriate notice period for the restrictions to be lifted enabling businesses to prepare for opening – we cannot be in a situation where businesses are only given days to prepare for reopening.
  • A recognition of the need for restrictions to align to enable businesses to be able to reopen on a financially viable footing. For tourism, it is critical that travel restrictions are relaxed to enable people to travel to attractions, accommodation and for experiences.

It is important that this framework is flexible and agile with the ability to ease restrictions earlier subject to health advice, progress with the vaccination programme, expansion of the Mass Population Testing and more effective contract testing.

The Tourism industry has been one of the worst effected sectors from the Covid-19 pandemic with an estimated £800m in lost business over the last 12 months. Further financial support is required to support businesses who have depleted reserves and taken on debt to survive to this point. Easter is the start of the main season for tourism, and accounts for over 15% of annual income. Without additional financial support, businesses will struggle to make it through the next few months to reopening. The NI Executive and the Chancellor must provide a package of support to see businesses through to reopening and beyond as they start to recover"