Ireland’s visitor experiences and attractions must be allowed reopen their doors under Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions to access the lifeline of a summer domestic tourism season.
That’s s according to the Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions (AVEA), who warned that the survival of visitor experiences core to the fabric of Ireland’s cultural identity and tourism industry is at a tipping point.
Among their members are a number of household visiter attractions including Raphoe’s Oakfield Park.
They expressed their concern for the association’s 85 members who currently are not permitted to reopen under Level 3 of the Government’s recently revised Covid-19 ‘Path Ahead Plan’.
Chair of AVEA, Sean Connick said: “We are urgently calling on the Government to confirm the inclusion of visitor experiences and attractions (VEA) as a named sector permitted to open under Level 3 when the country is ready to move to that stage.
“The opening of visitor attractions under Level 3 was correctly amended in November 2020, in line with other tourism, hospitality and retail businesses. It is our assumption that the non-inclusion of visitor attractions under Level 3 in the revised plan is a simple oversight by Government rather than a policy reversal.
“The VEA sector is set to miss another season of international travel, meaning two full years of lost revenue for our members. With the sector continuing to operate in survival mode, it is critical that visitor attractions are given the desperately needed lifeline of access to domestic tourism during the summer months.
“This is the only market the sector can depend on and given the cautious approach by Government to lifting restrictions which AVEA supports, it’s likely the domestic season will run for an extremely limited period, with capacity curtailed significantly due to operational restrictions.
According to Fáilte Ireland, AVEA members rank among some of the country’s most popular visitor experiences and include the Guinness Storehouse, the Cliffs of Moher, the Book of Kells, Tayto Park, the National Gallery of Ireland, and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
Mr Connick concluded: “We acknowledge the difficult task Government face in balancing the protection of public health and taking a cautious approach to safely reopening the economy and society. However, with deliberations on the reopening plan due to take place on 5th April, it is critical that Government consults formally with our members to ensure a fair and equitable discussion.
“Confirmation that the VEA sector can reopen under Level 3 would give our members more certainty to put plans in place now for the summer ahead. The short-term objectives of our members are to maintain jobs and talent, offer much needed positive mental health benefits throughout the summer and protect our strategic tourism and cultural assets. Meeting these objectives will be fundamental to strengthening the pace of recovery when our international visitors can return.”