Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly has acknowledged the response of the tourism and hospitality sector in the face of the COVID 19 crisis which he said is having a ‘catastrophic’ effect across the regions.
“Tourism businesses are already doing what they can to support public health, with many restaurants offering free meals to healthcare workers and free delivery to the elderly. The sector has shown that it is there for the community even when it is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis.”
Kelly explained that the COVID-19 crisis has come at a time of year for tourism businesses when cashflow is difficult and revenue has all but stopped. “These are truly unprecedented times for the tourism sector across the board and already we are seeing job losses as cash-flow and liquidity challenges mount for businesses. As an industry, urgent action is required to help businesses survive during these incredibly challenging times.”
Much of Fáilte Ireland’s usual activity has been postponed or cancelled with immediate effect:
- Meitheal 2020, Ireland’s largest travel and tourism trade fair, has been cancelled
- Fáilte Ireland’s new domestic marketing campaign Keep Discovering has been paused
- Tourism Information Centres throughout the country have now been closed
- All international media trips to Ireland have been postponed
- All scheduled face to face training programmes and workshops have been cancelled. These will be replaced by digital learning workshops targeted at helping business manage their most urgent needs
The National Tourism Development Authority has made a number of recommendations to Government in relation to the urgent supports most needed by the industry.
In addition, Fáilte Ireland has established a special Business Supports Taskforce focusing solely on supporting the tourism industry during the crisis.
These recommendations include measures to support business sustainability, employment as well as initiatives designed to kick-start demand. Fáilte Ireland is working with tourism businesses to provide advice on drawing down Government support packages; cashflow management and liquidity; managing cancellations and supplier relationships.
At the beginning of March, Fáilte Ireland established a COVID-19 Advisory Group comprising of industry and Government officials.
Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly said: “We fully support Ministers Ross and Griffin’s proposals for immediate measures to stabilise cash flow, liquidity and working capital for tourism and hospitality businesses. We are looking at a wide range of supports and those discussions are ongoing. Government acknowledges the urgency in providing the supports for the industry which are needed in a matter of days.”
The National Tourism Development Authority has taken several actions to focus on supporting businesses in the industry to come through the crisis and to help minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus:
- A briefing by the Department of Health to the Tourism and Hospitality sector took place on Thursday, facilitated by Fáilte Ireland
- Fáilte Ireland is rolling out webinars with expert advisors next week to be hosted on failteireland.ie
- There is a designated email for tourism businesses for questions: email@example.com. Industry can also call 1800 242 473
- Fáilte Ireland has a dedicated webpage for industry-relevant news and support
- Fáilte Ireland has submitted proposals to government for a kick start campaign, at the appropriate time
Paul Kelly highlighted the resilience of the tourism sector: “It is important to acknowledge that while this is a deeper crisis for the industry than any other, the Irish tourism industry has shown itself to be incredibly resilient and will bounce back.”