Fáilte Ireland unveils 2022 plans for tourism recovery, but availability of staff remains a major challenge
- Doubling of investment in domestic marketing to €10million compared to 2019 to encourage people to take additional short breaks among 2022 priorities
- Strong recovery in inbound tourism based on air access projected to be 83% of 2019 levels
- Staffing and cost inflation most significant challenges currently facing tourism sector
- Package of measures unveiled to support industry as it seeks to fill estimated 40,000 vacancies including new Excellent Employer Programme to build appeal of working in tourism and hospitality
Fáilte Ireland is today unveiling its priorities for 2022 to support the recovery of the tourism industry at a special in-person event attended by over 800 representatives from tourism and hospitality at the Convention Centre Dublin.
Among the plans outlined today at the event, entitled ‘From Survival to Recovery’, is a doubling of the domestic marketing investment to drive short breaks year-round; further investment in the digital presence of tourism businesses; four Regional Tourism Strategies for Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, Dublin and Wild Atlantic Way; 27 local Destination Development Plans which will be critical to driving the long-term recovery of tourism across Ireland; and plans to reduce tourism’s carbon footprint.
Fáilte Ireland has today also presented its largest and most robust research undertaken to date on staffing and skills in the tourism and hospitality sector.
With 30% of businesses surveyed saying their business could face closure if recruitment challenges aren’t resolved, Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly today warned that “staffing and competitiveness are the two most significant challenges facing the recovery of tourism in 2022. The pandemic has had a profound impact on the industry’s skill base, with a mass exodus of workers into other industries that reopened earlier.”
Further detail on the research findings in notes to editor.
Download a copy of Fáilte Ireland’s Tourism Careers Labour Research here
Outlining Fáilte Ireland’s plans to drive recovery of the sector in 2022 Paul Kelly continued:
“Today marks what we hope will be the transition from survival to a sustained and sustainable recovery. Tourism is a building block for regional balance and a critical contributor to social cohesion. It is essential for creating sustainable communities and a significant generator of jobs in regional and rural Ireland. As a critical part of the national economy, only when tourism recovers can there be a nationwide recovery.”
“The plans we have set out today aim to continue to drive domestic demand with a €10million domestic marketing investment to drive short breaks year-round. Looking to the season ahead, we expect a strong recovery in inbound tourism with forecasts indicating that we will regain 83% of 2019’s air passenger capacity by the end of the year. Fáilte Ireland will support the industry to capitalise on this growth through the implementation of our 4 regional brand tourism strategies and more localised Destination Development Plans.”
A major element of Fáilte Ireland’s work plan for 2022 is a multifaceted tourism careers strategy to address the staffing and skills crisis in tourism and hospitality including the first ever Excellent Employer Programme.
Jenny De Saulles, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Sector Development, outlines Fáilte Ireland’s response to the acute staffing and skills crisis:
“As the economy fully reopens, competition for skilled workers is at an all-time high so our industry needs to drive immediate changes to retain existing and to attract new staff. There are three key action areas where Fáilte Ireland will support industry. Fundamentally they are about getting the people, keeping the people and upskilling the people – and each of these go hand in hand. If you have good retention and development programmes, people are more likely to want to work for you. Staff shortages existed pre-Covid but the pandemic and its impact on the stability of the sector along with the universal changes in working patterns has compounded the issue.
“The package of supports announced today will help businesses in their immediate recruitment efforts and help them to commit to driving long-term change to make the industry an appealing and rewarding workplace that can attract and retain talent. Our new Excellent Employer Programme will support businesses to do that, and ultimately give the wider industry a platform to build back bigger and stronger, creating a fundamental shift in employee perception that will support the long-term repositioning of the tourism and hospitality industry and ensure a future pipeline of talent.”
Fáilte Ireland today detailed a range of initiatives to address the industry’s immediate recruitment efforts including support focused on accessing local and international talent pools; practical supports on implementing a comprehensive recruitment strategy including how to advertise roles effectively and successful interviewing in a competitive market; onboarding for the long term with one in three employees now new to the sector.
Central to the plans is a new Excellent Employer Programme to support tourism and hospitality businesses to demonstrate their commitment to being rewarding and appealing workplaces, that can compete for and retain skilled employees. Through the programme, businesses will have access to HR and people management training, and the opportunity to become certified as a top employer through an employee survey.
Fáilte Ireland will also provide participating businesses with tailored supports to action the key development areas highlighted in the staff survey. The aim is to support businesses to continuously improve their workplace and enhance their appeal to existing and potential employees.
Further priorities to support the recovery of the tourism industry outlined today by Fáilte Ireland include:
- Driving demand through a €10million investment in domestic marketing including sponsorship of the RTÉ weather, to encourage people to take additional short breaks in Ireland.
- Enhancing the digital capabilities of over 400 tourism businesses through Fáilte Ireland’s Digital that Delivers programme.
- Digital audit of over 800 hotels to be conducted and a suite of digital supports to ensure businesses are visible, searchable, and most importantly, bookable.
- Leading the drive towards a more sustainable tourism sector by developing a carbon reporting framework to benchmark the performance of Irish tourism businesses and carbon calculators and supports to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint.
- Development and implementation of four Regional Tourism Strategies in Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Dublin and 27 localised Destination Development Plans which will be critical to driving the long-term recovery of tourism across Ireland.
- Administering €50million through further phases of the Tourism Business Continuity Programme of funding which will help sustain strategic tourism businesses in 2022 and drive the sustainable recovery of the sector.
Welcoming Fáilte Ireland’s plans Minister Catherine Martin said: “The significant lifting of restrictions announced by An Taoiseach was the start of a new beginning for tourism and hospitality. With a more positive outlook for inbound tourism, there is hope that in 2022, we will see real recovery for the sector.
“The Government remains committed to supporting the tourism sector as we move from the survival phase towards recovery. The comprehensive plans for tourism recovery in 2022 announced by Fáilte Ireland today focus on supporting tourism businesses through both financial and practical supports, driving domestic and international demand in a globally competitive market, developing destination experiences across the country and addressing the staff and skills shortage in the industry.”
Commenting on the Fáilte Ireland research Ruth Andrews, Chairperson of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC), said “Labour supply is a critical issue for Irish tourism businesses and a multi-faceted strategy will be needed to support the industry rebuild and fully recovery. As demand increases from both the domestic market and international tourist, it is vital that the retention and recruitment of staff remains a number one priority, and in this context Fáilte Ireland has a vital role to play alongside industry.” Andrews also added that tourism was Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer and said, “No other industry can provide regional economic balance as tourism can and sustainability and competitiveness will be central to recovery”.