Jack Quann
Jack Quann

06.43 2 Dec 2020


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Tourism in Ireland is in "triage" mode with more long-standing businesses in the sector heading for collapse in the new year.

That is what Fáilte Ireland will tell the Oireachtas Committee on Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht later on Wednesday.

Since last year, the Irish tourist market has slumped from €8bn in value to just €2bn, with over 100,000 jobs lost.

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Fáilte Ireland says unless a "core framework" of the tourism industry can be saved, it will take years to return to its full strength after the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

Its director of sector development, Jenny De Saulles, says the worst is yet to come and we need to save what we can.

"We're hearing a lot more behind the scenes of businesses that are in trouble and are looking for support.

"The reality is unfortunately with the level of severity of this, COVID and the impact its had [means] there will be businesses that won't survive.

"But it's really important from a Government perspective that we ensure that enough businesses do survive, that there is a core framework.

"That's the big learning from the last recession."

Shift to domestic market

But she says while there is some hope of the market returning in 2021, businesses will have to make changes for the 'staycation' market.

"The good news for us is Ireland is being seen as a safe destination - and it's great when you look at the European map that we've gone to orange.

"That does give a sense of reassurance.

"But thinking about what you can bank on for the summer of next year, it has to be the domestic market."

She added that Fáilte Ireland is working closely with the industry "to help them pivot" their product, marketing, saales and messaging to a domestic audience.

Chair of the Oireachtas Tourism Committee, Fianna Fáil's Niamh Smyth told Breakfast Briefing it is a stark reality.

She said more investment will be needed: "The Government were very quick about setting up the Tourism Recovery Taskforce last May to look at what the Government can do in terms of investing, supporting and early intervention is always key.

"We know from research and past experience, unfortunately, that that type of investment we need that done to kick-start the tourism sector again following on from the pandemic".

She said she expects that the sitting of both Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland will be "very grim reading".

"We saw the staycation campaign and how that did work during the summer months... and obviously there's going to be an emphasis on that again for next summer.

"Unfortunately, I suppose people will be anxious to get a bit of sunshine when the pandemic lifts and there's a vaccine in place".

But Deputy Smyth said the Government has a responsibility to ensure "that the domestic economy in relation to tourism is supported - and that there is one in the new year".

Main image: The Ha'penny Bridge is seen over Dublin's River Liffey. Picture by: papagnoc from Pixabay 

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Failte Ireland Ireland Jenny De Saulles Niamh Smyth Oireachtas Tourism Committee Tourism Tourism Ireland

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