Fáilte Ireland’s €55m plan to reinvigorate Irish tourism

After one of the most challenging years faced by Irish tourism sector, can Fáilte Ireland’s €55m plan help sector not only to survive but also thrive?

Fáilte Ireland has revealed details of a new €55m business continuity scheme for the Irish tourism sector and has outlined its priorities for 2021.

The announcement was made at a special virtual industry event ‘Survive to Thrive’ yesterday (1 February) which watched by thousands of operators, providers and employers from across the tourism sector.

“Domestic tourism will be the first to return and we plan to invest significantly in domestic marketing once domestic tourism can restart”

The allocation was secured by Minister Catherine Martin TD in Budget 2021 and Fáilte Ireland is responsible for developing and administering the scheme.

Business continuity scheme for Irish tourism

The scheme will support those tourism businesses that were not eligible for the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) payment or previous Fáilte Ireland continuity grant schemes.

The National Tourism Development Authority also announced its heavyweight domestic marketing plans, investment commitments in outdoor dining and urban animation and its strategic priorities for the year ahead.

“I welcome Fáilte Ireland’s action plans for 2021 which I am confident will have a positive impact on the industry and will be key to helping it survive and thrive in the year ahead,” said Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport, Gaeltacht and Media, Catherine Martin, TD.

“I allocated €55m to Fáilte Ireland for the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme as part of Budget 2021 and this will be important to help those strategically important tourism businesses that are ineligible for other supports. The Government will continue to assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and ensure that appropriate supports are in place. We are now developing tourism for survival through the pandemic and recovery in the medium and long term.”

Looking beyond a challenging year

The event entitled ‘Survive to Thrive’, provided industry with details of Fáilte Ireland’s plans that will help support resilience and survival in the short term and the recovery of the sector in the long-term.

In his address, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly announced the main priorities for Fáilte Ireland this year to support the tourism industry.

Grant schemes to provide financial assistance, domestic marketing at national and county level, urban outdoor investment, business and employee supports with a special focus on mental health and a new digital transformation programme were unveiled.

 “This has been the most challenging year tourism has ever faced,” said Kelly. “The sector’s revenue has declined by a massive €6bn and tens of thousands of jobs have been lost. We are launching the first phase of the €55m Tourism Business Continuity Scheme on 11 February. This will provide those tourism businesses who have not received support through the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) or previous Fáilte Ireland business continuity schemes, with direct financial assistance.

“Domestic tourism will be the first to return and we plan to invest significantly in domestic marketing once domestic tourism can restart. Our research tells us that the ‘Keep Discovering’ campaign we launched prior to the Covid-19 pandemic resonates even more strongly with people now and we will be rolling the campaign out at both a national and county level to drive domestic tourism when the country re-opens. 

“We are also launching two new funding schemes in collaboration with our local authority partners to improve the quality of outdoor dining spaces in our key tourism destinations and enhance urban areas to make them more appealing to visitors,” Kelly said.

Key Fáilte Ireland initiatives for 2021:

  • A €55m Tourism Business Continuity Scheme1 to help tourism businesses offset fixed costs incurred in 2020 and support them to continue operating through 2021.
  • Heavyweight investment in Domestic Marketing to drive domestic tourism once the country re-opens including county-specific campaigns and a focus on Dublin.
  • Employee, business and sector supports on areas such as strategy and leadership, finance and cost efficiency, food and beverage innovation, maximising revenue and service excellence to drive performance and help businesses navigate the challenges they are facing, as well as wellbeing services to support employers and employees at this difficult time.
  • The enhancement of urban areas through 31 Destination Town2 projects across the country and two new funding schemes – the Outdoor Dining Grant Scheme which will improve the quality of outdoor dining spaces and offer reassurance around safety and comfort, and the Urban Animation Grant Scheme to animate our cities and towns with innovative lighting and art installations.
  • Preparing for the return of tourism by working with industry to build improved websites and online booking capability through a new digital transformation programme and continuing to keep Ireland front of mind for overseas buyers through a range of virtual sales events, including Meitheal, one of Ireland’s largest travel trade shows.

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 2 February 2021