Irish tourism businesses that missed out on previous rounds of Covid support from the government are set to benefit from a new €55 million initiative.
Failte Ireland, the country’s national tourism authority, will develop and administer the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme, funding for which was secured in the country’s 2021 Budget.
It will support tourism businesses that were ineligible for the country’s Covid Restrictions Support Scheme and previous Failte Ireland continuity grant schemes.
The first phase of the scheme will get under way on 11 February, Failte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly confirmed on Monday (1 February), coming after what he described as "the most challenging year tourism has ever faced".
According to Kelly, revenue throughout the sector is down by around £6 billion, with tens of thousands of jobs lost.
A second phase will begin in March 2021.
Businesses in line for grants ranging from €3,750 to €200,000 include outdoor activity providers, such as bike, kayak and walking tour companies or surf schools, golf courses with tourism offerings, tourist boat operators, hop-on hop-off bus operators, various visitor attractions, caravan and camping providers and cruise hire companies.
To qualify, businesses’ monthly turnover from October 2020 to January 2021 must be less than 25% of their average monthly turnover in 2019, and they must have a minimum annual turnover of €50,000 and minimum fixed costs amounting to at least 10% of turnover.
Additionally, Failte Ireland has set out new "heavyweight" domestic marketing plans, investment commitments towards outdoor dining and urban animation, and its strategic priorities for the year.
Failte Ireland plans to invest "significantly" in domestic marketing once tourism restarts, envisaging a sharper immediate recovery in the domestic market.
"Our research tells us that the ‘Keep Discovering’ campaign we launched prior to the Covid-19 pandemic resonates even more strongly with people now and we will be rolling the campaign out at both a national and county level to drive domestic tourism when the country reopens," said the authority.
Ireland minister for tourism Catherine Martin said the funds would help "strategically important tourism businesses" ineligible for other support.
"The government will continue to assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and ensure that appropriate supports are in place," said Martin.
"We are now developing tourism for survival through the pandemic and recovery in the medium and long-term.”