The tourism sector will not be “healed overnight” and will continue to need support as recovery continues, Minister Catherine Martin has said.
Minister Martin was speaking at an in-person conference organised by Fáilte Ireland.
The event, at Dublin’s Convention Centre, is part of a drive to attract business conferences, events and meetings back into Ireland post-pandemic.
The National Economic Recovery Plan name-checked the tourism sector as one that will need ongoing support, Ms Martin said, with challenges including staff shortages.
She said that investment will be needed in areas like marketing and recruitment.
Minister Martin has said that supports like the EWSS, CRSS, the business continuity schemes and reducing VAT to 9% were “front and centre of her mind” in this stage of the Budget 2022 negotiations and she said the Tourism Recovery Oversight Group was providing guidance.
She also said said yesterday’s news from the United States regarding the lifting of a ban on EU passengers was good news, even though it concerned Irish people going to the US rather than tourists coming here.
Ending the ban will help and encourage connectivity between the two countries, Ms Martin said.
Earlier the chief executive of Fáilte Ireland, Paul Kelly, told Business on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland the conference is sending a signal that “Ireland and Dublin are open for business”.
Mr Kelly said the reopening of US flights should allow for greater connectivity and is really important for both tourism and business, with US visitors bringing a huge revenue boost to the economy.
He said that day-to-day corporate travel is expected to be less as many continue business online, but he said there is a real appetite among many to get back to face to face engagement.
Prior to Covid-19, business tourism had been one of the fastest growing segments of the Irish tourism industry, contributing more than €716m a year to the economy and supporting up to 20,000 jobs.
The sector is highly specialised, lucrative and high yielding for Ireland because each business tourism visitor generates almost three times the tourism revenue than that of a leisure tourist.
Mr Kelly said that getting larger conferences and events back into Ireland will be even more important in the absence of daily corporate travel.
He said there is a pipeline of €1 billion of conferences and events looking to come back into Ireland between now and 2033.
Mr Kelly said Fáilte Ireland is working with industry to address concerns about staff shortages and to promote tourism careers.
He said having tourism and hospitality properly staffed is ‘a big challenge for us, we haven’t got all the answers yet’.