As hotels, attractions, restaurants, venues, pubs and many more hospitality businesses close their doors it is evident to all that Ireland’s tourism industry is in the business front line of the Covid-19 crisis that grips the country.
A public health issue first and foremost, Covid-19 also has shattering economic implications and Irish tourism is facing catastrophic consequences. It is estimated that 140,000 people have already lost their jobs, many in the tourism and hospitality industry, and this is set to get worse in the coming weeks.
The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC), representing the leading tourism stakeholders across the public and private sectors, last weekend set out a 3-point plan outlining the urgent and immediate measures needed by Government to protect Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer during this unprecedented and immense challenge.
Put simply, minimising job losses and business closures requires aggressive Government intervention. With the cessation of flights between the US and Ireland, the closure of tourism sites, the cancellation of the St. Patrick’s Festival, and the ban on gatherings of 100 people indoors or 500 people outdoors, the impact of Covid-19 on Irish tourism has been devastating and immediate. There will be no quick bounce-back from this either with international visitors absent from our shores in 2020 even if the virus is under check.
Understandably public health issues, and the containment of the virus, has been the Government’s main focus and it has moved quickly to offer laid-off workers some supports. However Government has been far too slow to respond to the urgent and immediate needs of tourism employers who face the real and stark challenge of business survival.