Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons has said that it could take over half a decade for Ireland's tourism sector to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As reported by The Irish Independent, Gibbons said that while 2020 has been a "catastrophic" year for the tourism industry, he believes that the sector will recover from the pandemic, but that it could take years.
Gibbons told the Oireachtas tourism committee, "The pace of recovery is unknown. However, based on the best information to hand, Tourism Ireland currently predicts the recovery could take in excess of five years.
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"In order to improve on this position, an effective, sustained and large-scale marketing approach will be required.
"This should begin as soon as the health situation allows."
Gibbons said that it is likely that Tourism Ireland will reach into markets such as the UK and mainland Europe soon, but that the marketing body does not expect to see tourism from long-haul markets until 2022 and beyond.
Gibbons also said that if a deal is not reached between London and Brussels regarding Brexit, a possible depreciation of sterling will make Ireland more expensive for travellers, and added, "The other concern on the Northern Ireland front is that the research we conducted in France and Germany does indicate a level of confusion among consumers who pick up their papers and don't know the politics that we have here and think it sounds like a lot of hassle going to Ireland and all that is going on at the border.
"It's a small hassle, but enough for them to say I'll leave it this year and maybe go next year when things have settled down."
Tourism Sector Facing "Rapid Acceleration" Of Insolvencies
Meanwhile, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly warned the Oireachtas tourism committee that the tourism sector is facing a "rapid acceleration" of insolvencies after Christmas.
Kelly stated, "Looking to the future. While the industry is very grateful for the significant government support, the severity and longevity of public health restrictions mean that for many businesses the current level of support is not going to be enough. We have already seen some insolvencies and we are likely to see a rapid acceleration in this after Christmas unless something significant changes.
"Recovery will not be immediate, but tourism will recover, and the speed of Ireland's recovery will be primarily determined by how many tourism businesses have received the support they require to stay solvent. We cannot rebuild employment without employers, so we must not shy away from providing the business supports required. To do so would be to abandon balanced regional development and self-sustaining rural communities."
© 2020 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.