The Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance (NITA) has urged that the proposed Holiday-At-Home voucher scheme be given more funding. At present there is £2 million set aside to run this scheme, but the NITA believes that a lot of people would miss out on these vouchers and be disappointed if the funding is not increased. With the high street voucher scheme, which is now running, all people in Northern Ireland over the age of 18 are eligible to receive the vouchers, however the Holiday-At-Home scheme is not likely to be so wide reaching.
Details Of The Scheme
The proposed scheme will allow households to claim 50% back off a stay of 2 nights or more in specified accommodation, up to the value of £100. And vouchers will also be issued to give 50% off various attractions and events in Northern Ireland, this up to the value of £20. All households can apply for one of each type of voucher but there could be issues if demand is high.
In an article on the BBC News website NITA chief executive Joanne Stuart is quoted as saying:
“£2m has been allocated to this scheme and we do believe the demand will be high and a lot of people will be disappointed, so we would ask the minister to consider the funding he has and whether there is more available to the scheme,” she said.
“This is not just support for the accommodation sector and tourism attractions. When people stay in a destination, they spend money in hospitality or retail so there would be much more in terms of a wider economic benefit.
“We believe this is a really important intervention for the accommodation and attraction sector and we are working with the department and the minister with regards to when this needs to be launched.
“Given the funding needs to be spent by the end of the financial year we would like to see it launched as soon as possible to see the maximum return on investment,” she said.
The Tourism Industry Is Not Out Of The Woods Yet
She was also asked in the article if she thought the scheme would work well if it was launched in January or February. She said:
“January to March is traditionally the slowest period of the year so if we were able to get a scheme that starts in January, we would get the chance to get the benefit in those slow months,” she said.
“From 1 April, we are going to see significant cost increases with the rates holiday ending and VAT returning to 20%.
“The majority of tourism businesses have had to take loans and in 2022 the repayments are going to be starting, so anything we can do to help those businesses have a better January to March period would be really good before moving into the high season. We are not out of the woods.”
One Of A Number Of Measures Being Looked At
The Department for the Economy, when asked about the scheme, said that it was one of a number of measures that were being looked at, and they were working with people in the industry to decide on the best time to launch it.
The tourism industry is a key part of the Northern Irish economy and so every effort should be made to help and support it through these turbulent times.