SPONSORED: KATHLEEN FUNCHION: Kilkenny tourism needs more support during these difficult times
Kilkenny has a long and proud traditional of the cead mile failte, but the last 13 months have tested this industry like never before.
We all have fond memories of long summer nights in the city we love, full to the brim with excited American tourists taking in the sites of our ancient city. We all long for their return.
But the pandemic and the repercussions on tourism for the city and county of Kilkenny have been monumental. The tour operators, the B&B owners, restaurants, café, pubs, the indoor and outdoor activity companies, museums and galleries, festival and event organisers have all been nearly wiped out by the pandemic.
Revenue for the industry in Ireland has declined by 80%, and a sector that once supported approximately 260,000 jobs nationwide is struggling to stay afloat.
Last year Sinn Fein put forward proposals to help the tourism industry including a €100 voucher, we also called for further supports for the struggling coach and bus sector and the travel agency sector, both of whom have been very badly hit.
Tourism bosses are encouraging those in the industry to concentrate on domestic tourists and to reinvent their offering for a domestic market. They need to be supported to make these changes.
The Government must re-double its focus on the vaccination rollout. It was hardly surprising that, in a recent Failte Ireland survey, many tourism businesses cite the vaccine rollout as an important factor in the resumption of their industry.
While Kilkenny has a lot to offer these businesses need to be financially supported by the Government and given real and practical advice and assistance by organisations like Failte Ireland.
The recently announced €55 million ‘Thrive to Survive’ Fund from Failte Ireland I am sure will provide some relief for tourism businesses, but I sincerely hope that the government through its agencies is actively contacting businesses and essentially guiding people through the process.
The sector is too important to let fail.