Written answers

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Tourism Industry

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)
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243. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she has assessed the impact of the tourism crisis on town centres and the problems they will face in the short and medium term. [22586/21]

Photo of Catherine MartinCatherine Martin (Dublin Rathdown, Green Party)
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The economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt across the entire country and it has been particularly severe in our town and city centres. The lengthy closure of retail and hospitality outlets, culture, arts and entertainment venues, along with requirements to work from home for many office based staff, has led to a significant falloff in economic and social activity in what were, prior to COVID, vibrant and dynamic business and community spaces.

I am fully committed to continuing support for tourism through this difficult period and to working towards reopening and recovery. Together with horizontal measures introduced by Government, such as the EWSS and the CRSS, the sector-specific measures I have introduced to date, including the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme and the Covid Adaptation Scheme are key in helping tourism businesses to survive and adapt. The Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme and the Urban Animation Scheme being run by Fáilte Ireland in partnership with Local Authorities, are particularly important to town centres.

As part of the National Economic Recovery Plan, the Government will consider more targeted measures to help reboot those sectors, such as tourism, which will face particular challenges during the recovery phase when the economy reopens.

As the economy reopens on a phased basis over the coming months, city and town centres, which rely on the cumulative attractiveness of retail, hospitality, attractions and the experience economy, face a complex set of challenges that need to be addressed if they are going to maximise the benefit of reopening and take advantage of the recovery. The pandemic has required new approaches to the urban trading environment, including greater use of outdoor spaces to trade. The expansion of outdoor dining and social spaces in cities and towns will require a coordinated approach.

Officials from my Department are involved in on-going discussions with a number of Government Departments and the Business, Enterprise and Innovation Committee of the County and City Management Association (CCMA) regarding the challenges faced, and steps being taken, by city and urban areas in the period ahead arising from the COVID pandemic. I also continue to engage with the sector on a regular basis and in particular through the Hospitality and Tourism Forum.

In line with our Programme for Government commitments, the development of a new national tourism policy, which will have sustainability at its core, will commence later this year when the sector begins to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. This new policy will set out a path for the coming years which will support a sustainable recovery and subsequent growth in the sector, not just in our cities and towns, but also in regional and rural areas. Tourism has proven itself resilient before and I am confident that, with the support of Government, it will recover from this crisis and thrive again.


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