NI Shadow Secretary joins tourism industry leaders for roundtable discussion
From left Janice Gault, NI Hotel Federation; Richard Williams, NI Screen; Louise Haigh MP, Shadow Secretary of State for NI; Colin Neill, Hospitality Ulster; Joanne Stuart, NI Tourism Alliance; and John McGrillen, CEO of Tourism NI.
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Louise Haigh has joined local tourism industry leaders at the Titanic Hotel for a roundtable discussion on the impact of Covid-19 on the tourism economy as well as the challenges and opportunities lying ahead.
The discussion also included an overview of the Northern Ireland screen industry and support required from Government to assist the recovery and growth of tourism.
Leading the group was Tourism NI Chief Executive John McGrillen, joined by industry representatives from Hospitality Ulster, Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance and Northern Ireland Screen.
“It has been a pleasure to meet Louise Haigh MP on her first official trip as Shadow Secretary for Northern Ireland,” said McGrillen. “I am grateful that she has taken the time to speak to us and hear the concerns of the tourism and hospitality sector in Northern Ireland.
“We are facing very uncertain times for our industry and have met these challenges with a range of support initiatives through the Tourism Recovery Taskforce led by Minister Dodds. Thanks to these collective efforts, along with UK government interventions, the staycation market has rallied across the summer months and provided hope for many businesses in Northern Ireland.
“The next six months will bring new, and perhaps greater challenges, as we face into the longer-term impact on our industry. I am confident, however, that with ongoing support we can come through this crisis and return to being the success story of the Northern Ireland economy that has been the case for much of the past decade.”
Haigh said: “The tourism industry is one of Northern Ireland’s great success stories, with numbers rocketing in recent years. But the crisis has hit hard here and additional support in desperately needed.
“Labour have been calling for urgent flexible support, including an extension to the furlough scheme, to protect jobs. It cannot be right that the furlough scheme simply ends in October when many businesses are still not back up and running and will still need help. The tourism industry cannot afford to wait; jobs are being lost now and support is needed now to save livelihoods.”
The Shadow Secretary of State enjoyed a tourism-themed visit to Derry~Londonderry, including a tour of the historic walls and a meeting with City of Derry Lord Mayor Brian Tierney. She also visited landmarks including the Guildhall, the Peace Bridge and the Derry Girls mural.