Grants are boost to tourism industry but 'consistency in the messaging for visitors' is needed

“This is our third winter going through this really and winters were difficult to begin with, now they’re even longer.”
Grants are boost to tourism industry but 'consistency in the messaging for visitors' is needed

Derry Cronin of Cronins Coaches in Cork said that the funding will be “vital” in getting businesses through the winter.

MULTIPLE sections of Ireland’s tourism industry are to benefit from an extended government grant scheme next year.

Details of the allocation of €50m were released this week. The scheme was first introduced earlier this year to support businesses as the pandemic continued to decimate the international tourism industry.

In 2022, the programme will be split into four phases with applications for tourism transport businesses — like coach companies and inbound tourism agents — open on January 11 and 12. Later phases will focus on attraction and activity providers and accommodation providers.

Speaking to The Echo, Derry Cronin of Cronins Coaches in Cork said that the funding will be “vital” in getting businesses through the winter.

“It’s a very important and welcome scheme because it’s going to be another two years before we get back to trading in any meaningful way,” he said. “The coach business is a depreciating asset. There’s a lot of finance involved and it has been a long haul.

“This is our third winter going through this really and winters were difficult to begin with, now they’re even longer.”

Speaking about the amount of funding allocated, Mr Cronin said that after the past two years any kind of support is welcome.

“I have a lot of colleagues who are saying that it’s not enough but in my view, this is very important funding,” he said. “You can always look at things like this and say they can do better but I personally think the Government support has been good, especially with this specific one that is targeted to the sector.”

Looking ahead 

During a virtual event for industry members this week, attended by numerous Cork businesses, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly said that the sector can look ahead to next year with “cautious optimism”.

“We are seeing encouraging markers such as the increase in seat capacity and an uplift in repeat bookings from springtime as positive signals for the second half of 2022,” he said.

“However, it is critical we address the immediate survival needs of our sector in early 2022 to ensure as many businesses as possible can be sustained.” 

Mr Cronin echoed the comments, calling the outlook for 2022 “positive” for Cork’s tourism companies - as long as they can make it through the first part of the year.

“It’s looking hopeful for next year. It’ll start a little bit later than we’d like but it will recover,” he said.

“We do need consistency in the messaging for visitors though. 

"When Ireland is open it will need to be all about providing confidence in how to get here in terms of testing and tracing and informing visitors what they can do in case they get sick.

“If all those uncertainties can be made clearer and communicated better I think we will have a good season from May to September. But first, we need to get May.”

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