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Fáilte Ireland Unveils Tourism Recovery Plans For 2022

By Dave Simpson

Fáilte Ireland has unveiled plans to support the recovery of the tourism industry this year.

‘From Survival To Recovery’

The plans were unveiled at an in-person event called ‘From Survival to Recovery’, at the Convention Centre Dublin on Tuesday 8 February, which was attended by more than 800 tourism and hospitality sector representatives.

The plans include a doubling of domestic marketing investment, to drive short breaks year round; further investment in the digital presence of tourism businesses; four regional tourism strategies, for Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, Dublin, and the Wild Atlantic Way; 27 local-destination development plans; and plans to reduce tourism’s carbon footprint.

Staffing And Skills

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At the event in the Convention Centre Dublin, Fáilte Ireland also presented research on staffing and skills in the tourism and hospitality sector.

With 30% of businesses surveyed saying that their business could face closure if recruitment challenges are not resolved, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly warned that “staffing and competitiveness are the two most significant challenges facing the recovery of tourism in 2022. The pandemic has had a profound impact on the industry’s skill base, with a mass exodus of workers into other industries that reopened earlier.”

“The Transition From Survival To A Sustained And Sustainable Recovery”

Outlining Fáilte Ireland’s plans to drive the tourism and hospitality sector’s recovery this year, Kelly continued, “Today marks what we hope will be the transition from survival to a sustained and sustainable recovery. Tourism is a building block for regional balance and a critical contributor to social cohesion. It is essential for creating sustainable communities and a significant generator of jobs in regional and rural Ireland. As a critical part of the national economy, only when tourism recovers can there be a nationwide recovery.

“The plans we have set out today aim to continue to drive domestic demand, with a €10 million domestic marketing investment to drive short breaks year round. Looking to the season ahead, we expect a strong recovery in inbound tourism, with forecasts indicating that we will regain 83% of 2019’s air passenger capacity by the end of the year. Fáilte Ireland will support the industry to capitalise on this growth through the implementation of our four regional brand tourism strategies and more localised destination development plans.”

A Multifaceted Tourism Career Strategy

Fáilte Ireland noted that a major element of its work plan for this year is a multifaceted tourism career strategy, to address staffing and skills issues in the tourism and hospitality sector, including the first-ever Excellent Employer Programme.

Outlining Fáilte Ireland’s response to staffing and skills issues, Fáilte Ireland’s director of sector development, Jenny De Saulles, stated, “As the economy fully reopens, competition for skilled workers is at an all-time high, so our industry needs to drive immediate changes to retain existing [staff] and to attract new staff.

“There are three key action areas where Fáilte Ireland will support industry. Fundamentally, they are about getting the people, keeping the people, and upskilling the people, and each of these go hand in hand. If you have good retention and development programmes, people are more likely to want to work for you. Staff shortages existed pre-COVID, but the pandemic and its impact on the stability of the sector, along with the universal changes in working patterns, has compounded the issue.

“The package of supports announced today will help businesses in their immediate recruitment efforts and help them to commit to driving long-term change, to make the industry an appealing and rewarding workplace that can attract and retain talent. Our new Excellent Employer Programme will support businesses to do that, and ultimately give the wider industry a platform to build back bigger and stronger, creating a fundamental shift in employee perception that will support the long-term repositioning of the tourism and hospitality industry and ensure a future pipeline of talent.”

Initiatives To Address The Industry’s Immediate Recruitment Efforts

At the event in the Convention Centre Dublin, Fáilte Ireland detailed a range of initiatives to address the industry’s immediate recruitment efforts, including support focused on accessing local and international talent pools; practical supports on implementing a comprehensive recruitment strategy, including how to advertise roles effectively and successful interviewing in a competitive market; and onboarding for the long term, with one in three employees now new to the sector.

Fáilte Ireland noted that the Excellent Employer Programme – to support tourism and hospitality businesses to demonstrate their commitment to being rewarding and appealing workplaces that can compete for and retain skilled employees – is central to the plans, and that, through the programme, businesses will have access to HR and people management training, and the opportunity to become certified as a top employer through an employee survey.

Fáilte Ireland also noted that it will also provide participating businesses with tailored supports to action the key development areas highlighted in the staff survey, and that the aim is to support businesses to continuously improve their workplaces and enhance their appeal to existing and potential employees.

Further Priorities

Further priorities to support the recovery of the tourism industry that were outlined by Fáilte Ireland include:

  • driving demand through a €10 million investment in domestic marketing, including sponsorship of RTÉ Weather, to encourage people to take additional short breaks in Ireland;
  • enhancing the digital capabilities of over 400 tourism businesses through Fáilte Ireland’s Digital that Delivers programme;
  • a digital audit of more than 800 hotels, to be conducted, and a suite of digital supports to ensure that businesses are visible, searchable and, most importantly, bookable;
  • leading the drive towards a more sustainable tourism sector by developing a carbon-reporting framework, to benchmark the performance of Irish tourism businesses, and carbon calculators and supports, to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint;
  • the development and implementation of four regional tourism strategies – in the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, and Dublin – and 27 localised destination development plans; and
  • administering €50 million through further phases of the Tourism Business Continuity Programme of funding.

Tourism Minister’s Statement

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, stated, “The significant lifting of restrictions announced by An Taoiseach was the start of a new beginning for tourism and hospitality. With a more positive outlook for inbound tourism, there is hope that in 2022, we will see real recovery for the sector.

“The government remains committed to supporting the tourism sector as we move from the survival phase towards recovery. The comprehensive plans for tourism recovery in 2022 announced by Fáilte Ireland today focus on supporting tourism businesses through both financial and practical supports, driving domestic and international demand in a globally competitive market, developing destination experiences across the country, and addressing the staff and skills shortage in the industry.”

ITIC Chairperson’s Statement

Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) chairperson Ruth Andrews stated, “Labour supply is a critical issue for Irish tourism businesses, and a multifaceted strategy will be needed to support the industry rebuild and fully recover. As demand increases from both the domestic market and international tourists, it is vital that the retention and recruitment of staff remains a number-one priority, and in this context Fáilte Ireland has a vital role to play alongside industry.”

Andrews added that tourism was Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer, saying, “No other industry can provide regional economic balance as tourism can, and sustainability and competitiveness will be central to recovery.”

© 2022 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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