Speaking after the meeting, the Minster said: “Tourism and hospitality businesses have been amongst those hardest hit by the pandemic and associated restrictions. While the road to recovery for these sectors has begun there are still barriers and challenges ahead.
“One of the main issues raised at the meeting was the disparity of travel regulations. Over the past number of weeks, Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland have been contacted by a range of tour operators, visitor attractions and accommodation providers seeking clarity on how COVID travel restrictions will impact upon visitors travelling to Ireland and wishing to include Northern Ireland within their itinerary following the re-opening of international travel into the Republic of Ireland.
“Speaking to the tourism representatives I have heard they are facing a widespread cancellation of bookings and how there is a fear within the industry that they will see cancellations spanning not only this season but also next. The impact of this is could be far reaching for the sustainability of those businesses, their supply chains and the maintenance of Northern Ireland’s market share.
“We have worked hard over the last decade to promote Northern Ireland as an international travel destination and welcomed a record number of visitors in 2019. Tour operators bring an estimated £150m into the local economy and are a very important source of income for accommodation providers, hospitality businesses and tourist attractions. Over £56m of this can be attributed to the golf industry alone. There is a very real concern however that much of this business may be lost for next season. Due to the high nature of spend by these visitors, they will be planning and booking breaks well in advance meaning uncertainty now will have a real impact well into 2022 and 2023. It is, therefore, vital we explore all avenues to ensure international visitors can travel to Northern Ireland safely.”
Notes to editors:
- Under current travel restrictions, the USA and Europe are on the amber list and visitors to NI from these countries are required to self-isolate for a period of 10 days on arrival in Northern Ireland, regardless of vaccination status.
- Picture caption - Left to right - Judith Owens, Managing Director, Titanic Belfast, Marty Carr, Executive Chairman, Carr Golf, Aileen Martin, Director of Sales, Hastings Hotel Group, John McGrillen, Chief Executive, Tourism NI, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons, Rajesh Rana, Managing Director, Andras House Group, Nuala Saul, Managing Director, Brack Tours, Mike Gatt, Managing Director, Maldron Hotel Belfast and Stephen Cotter, Chief Operating Officer, CIE Tours