Fáilte Ireland: Supporting Ireland’s Tourism And Hospitality Businesses
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Ireland’s tourism and hospitality industry has been catastrophic. Fáilte Ireland is working with tourism businesses across the country to support them during this extremely challenging time. With the Government’s roadmap for reopening in place, the National Tourism Development Authority is now looking towards recovery and has developed a range of supports to help tourism and hospitality businesses re-open their doors safely and effectively.
As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, Fáilte Ireland formed an Industry Advisory Group made up of key tourism agencies, stakeholders and sectoral bodies, along with representatives from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, to monitor the situation and agree a set of practical measures to support the sector.
“The tourism and hospitality industry essentially collapsed overnight,” says Martina Bromley, Head of Enterprise and Hospitality Development at Fáilte Ireland. “As the National Tourism Development Authority, we stepped in to provide the expert guidance and supports urgently needed by businesses across the country.”
As expert guidance on cash flow and liquidity was the most immediate need, the first step for Fáilte Ireland was to refund accommodation registration charges, trade show participation fees and a range of other promotional fees and charges for the remainder of 2020 to deliver almost €3m back to Irish tourism businesses.
COVID-19 Business Support Hub
A Fáilte Ireland Business Supports Taskforce, led by the Sector Development Directorate under Director Jenny De Saulles and with input from across the organisation, was established to focus solely on supporting the tourism industry. In response to businesses’ immediate needs, an online COVID-19 Business Support Hub was created on www.failteireland.ie to provide up-to-date information, expert advice and guidance to help tourism and hospitality businesses navigate the crisis.
The support hub has already had almost 90,000 visitors and the practical webinars have been viewed 15,000 times, with positive feedback from the industry. Martina Bromley says the COVID-19 Business Support Hub will continue to be updated with the latest advice and supports as the crisis evolves.
“Our COVID-19 Business Support Hub houses our suite of free supports, including practical webinars and FAQs on topics from insurance to managing business relationships and safeguarding future revenues, and new supports will be added to the hub to meet the urgent needs of businesses as we move through the crisis into the recovery stage. The situation is changing by the day and we are continuing to speak to tourism businesses regularly about the challenges they are facing so that we can continue to provide practical, tactical and relevant supports that are 100% subsidised by Fáilte Ireland.”
Planning for recovery
Fáilte Ireland is now looking at the next phase of its response to the COVID-19 crisis, which is recovery, says Martina. “Companies will need a strong recovery plan and huge commitment to jump-start business after what has to be the biggest challenge the tourism and hospitality industry has ever faced. We have developed a range of business supports that will look at businesses by sector and address the areas they need to look at now in terms of a phased return to business.”
Alongside sector-specific guidelines for safe reopening, Fáilte Ireland is working with businesses to support them to determine the capacity of their business and the financial implications of this new operating model.
The stage at which businesses will open will depend on the pace at which restrictions are lifted, business demand, domestic and international economies and businesses’ cashflow projections. Fáilte Ireland’s financial recovery
supports, developed with industry experts, provide businesses with the tools to make the best decisions for their business. These tools include expert webinars, guides, checklists and financial templates to advise businesses on areas such as managing costs, forecasting and accessing financial support from banks or other institutions.
Capacity & Commercial Impacts Calculator
Driving revenue/income streams, while looking at overall operational costs and adhering to Government and public health advice, will be key for the tourism and hospitality industry to reset businesses. Fáilte Ireland has created a ‘Capacity & Commercial Impacts Calculator’ to help businesses to assess which parts of their operation can function profitably, how to utilise any available space to help overcome capacity reductions and where to drive efficiencies.
There will be significant changes to how businesses and their staff operate when they return to the workplace. It is important for businesses to manage their resource planning and staff communication, and review the legal, HR and safety implications of making a complete or phased return to work for staff.
Fáilte Ireland has worked with industry experts to guide businesses in the key areas of risk management, providing a safe place to work, managing and planning changes to contracts and hours (including potential redundancies), and managing employment supports and payments. These supports have all been developed in line with equality and employment legislation.
Supporting teams while working remotely
Fáilte Ireland has created a suite of free eLearning programmes for businesses to help them to motivate their teams and upskill them in new areas while businesses are shut down during COVID-19. The purpose of the eLearning programme is to support businesses to keep their employees engaged while they are working from home, and to prepare them to return to work.
Supporting workplace wellbeing
The COVID-19 crisis is one of the most challenging and difficult times the tourism and hospitality industry has ever faced. Fáilte Ireland’s wellbeing supports are available to tourism businesses and their employees to help them through this difficult time. These supports include the I Am Here: Rapid Response service in partnership with Pulse Learning, a programme of mental health support and learning within the workplace and beyond, and an Employee Assistance programme in partnership with Inspire Workplaces. This provides free counselling services as well as advice on financial concerns and legal issues for business owners and employees across the industry.
Fáilte Ireland’s sectoral operational guidelines are currently being finalised in collaboration with industry bodies, relevant state agencies, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and wider Government. These detailed, sector-specific guidelines will assist tourism and hospitality businesses to prepare to re-open safely whilst adhering to public health advice and the Government roadmap for the reopening of society and business.
Tourism Recovery Taskforce
Fáilte Ireland welcomed the recent establishment of the Government’s special Tourism Recovery Taskforce, dedicated to spearheading economic recovery for the tourism sector. Members of the Taskforce include leaders from various sectors of the industry, including Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, who will together develop innovative plans to ensure the tourism sector can survive and emerge from this crisis ready for business.
Find out more
To access support and the most up-to-date information visit Fáilte Ireland’s COVID-19 Business Support Hub at www.failteireland.ie
Martina Bromley, Head of Enterprise and Hospitality Development at Fáilte Ireland