A tourism revival plan published today by the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) outlines how a recovery in jobs, visitor numbers and revenue can be secured by 2025. The plan was unveiled at a major virtual tourism conference attended by Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin TD, ITIC Chairperson Ruth Andrews, and biochemist Professor Luke O’Neill, amongst others.
Willie Walsh, former IAG CEO and Incoming Director General of IATA, urged the Irish Government to work with the tourism and aviation industry saying “we will be part of the economic recovery, this is the time to support the tourism industry to generate jobs and we’ll only do that if we are working together”.
Within ITIC’s Revival Plan (available here) the carnage visited upon the Irish tourism and hospitality industry in the last 12 months was laid bare with an estimated 90% drop in revenue and 160,000 job losses. However, the plan points to various outlook scenarios and lists 27 policy recommendations needed for the industry’s “survival, revival and sustainable recovery”.
ITIC is calling for a doubling of the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme for tourism businesses, increased business continuity grants for the sector, and the extension of the 9% Vat rate through to 2025.
“Tourism is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer and Government must support the industry during these difficult and dark days” ITIC Chairperson Ruth Andrews
In an exclusive interview Willie Walsh criticised the Government’s position on air travel stating that “there has to be an all-island solution, you can’t have a situation whereby there are restrictions flying into Ireland and open access into Northern Ireland. If you don’t have the same rules on the whole island you’re wasting time, money and effort.” He said he expected Ryanair to be one of the winners coming out of the Covid crisis given the flexibility of their costs base and “the ambition of Michael O’Leary”.
Minister Catherine Martin TD, in conversation with moderator Dearbhail McDonald, said: “Tourism is one of Ireland’s most important industries and a significant regional employer and Government will support the sector to ensure it survives this crisis and sees better days ahead”.
Trinity Professor of Biochemistry and Immunology Luke O’Neill was a guest at the conference and said: “Once the vaccination campaign is fully blazing and we’re getting lots of people protected, the death rate begins to fall hugely, hospitalizations fall hugely and that should be sustained for months. Governments have to reopen up from that moment on”, while Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly confirmed that €55 million of business continuity grants would be paid out to industry over the coming months.
In a recent survey, members of ITIC – made up of hotels, airlines, attractions, tour operators, ferry companies and hospitality businesses amongst others – are hopeful of seeing a return of international tourists by September 2021 with the real impetus for recovery happening next year.
Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, CEO of ITIC, said that a reopening of the tourism economy was critical before the summer and called the Government’s domestic market Stay and Spend stimulus “flawed from the outset”. He urged it to be redesigned and relaunched as a consumer-friendly upfront household voucher. Whilst welcoming home holidays, O’Mara Walsh stated that “the domestic market is not big enough, strong enough or robust enough to support Ireland’s tourism industry and we must get international aviation recommenced in a safe manner with an appropriate testing regime as soon as possible”.
Over 2,500 business and tourism leaders registered for the conference which also included an Industry Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Paul Carty, recently retired Managing Director of the Guinness Storehouse, Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction.