*Kilkee Castle as seen from Dunlicka Castle on Loop Head Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan
CLARE is likely to be disproportionately affected by the impact of COVID-19 on tourism with 11 percent of jobs directly dependent on the tourism and hospitality sector.
A new report by consulting firm EY Ireland claims that an ambitious and coordinated tourism plan from public and private stakeholders should be considered to prevent the industry from faltering.
Pre-crisis, the accommodation and food sectors accounted for 179,200 jobs in Ireland. Today almost 12 per cent of those workers are availing of the temporary wage subsidy scheme.
An estimated 11 per cent of jobs in Clare are directly dependent on the tourism and hospitality sector, while 14 per cent of jobs in neighbouring Galway depend on the sector.
This is compared with 10 per cent in the capital and 10 per cent in Cork, with many more supported through the supply chains and associated wages.
“As a result, these rural regions are markedly less resilient than others to COVID-19 shocks and will be directly impacted, with fewer alternative sectors that could compensate for job losses,” said an EY spokesperson.
Estimates suggest the effects will be felt globally for more than two years, although this could vary from one country to another.
EY’s Simon MacAllister commented: “Between 2009 and 2019 there was a 56 percent rise in overseas trips to Ireland by non-residents, but we have seen a near overnight reversal of this as a result of COVID-19. Tourist behaviour will undoubtedly be impacted in the long-term by this pandemic, for geopolitical, economic and possibly psychological reasons.”
The report recommends implementing a rapid and sustainable financial support package, tailored to the needs of each tourism sub-sector, alongside strategic operational support. Firms within the sector will also need to adapt their business plans to respond to fast-evolving government restrictions and to target new, local markets.