The coronavirus is having a devastating effect on global travel and tourism, including here in Clare. We know that all tourism sectors are experiencing it, but a recent All-Ireland survey of visitor attractions gives an insight into the impact of the pandemic.
The survey was carried out by Visitor International (the International Association of Visitor Information Providers) together with Glance Promotions and Heritage island in order to understand the effects of the coronavirus on tourism attractions and experiences. The survey was undertaken between April 9 and 24, 2020 and is based on feedback by ninety-four leading attractions and experiences.
Some of the key Ireland report findings
85% of attractions have either laid-off or furloughed staff, and 76% have lost more than 75% of their income. Since the travel restrictions came into place, most attractions have lost 100% of their income.
In looking ahead, most businesses expect that it will take a few years for their business to be back to 2019 levels. 59% of attractions expect that it will take more than two years for their overseas business to be back to 2019 levels, and 53% think it will take over one year for their domestic business to return to 2019 levels.
Attractions expect the need for ‘social distancing’ to impact their capacity and, therefore, their revenue-generating capabilities. In some cases, social distancing may require the closing of key features within the attraction, reducing their appeal.
The attractions see the domestic/Ireland market as being their best prospect for business once travel resumes. However, 43% of attractions typically generate most of their revenue from overseas, and the nature of some of these attractions means that it is unlikely that domestic visitors will replace this lost business.
Attractions say they will need a range of special supports by the state and its agencies to help them survive and navigate through these unprecedented times. These supports include grant schemes and financial supports to help they stay in business; marketing grants to help them to promote themselves; supports to help them ‘Covid-proof’ their businesses; and a reduction in VAT, rates, and insurance costs.
When the time is right, attractions want to see a major domestic SALES campaign to drive business toward them. They also want to ensure Ireland ‘stays bright’ and promotes itself in the international marketplace so that when travel resumes, Ireland is ‘top of mind’.
While the findings are stark, there are valuable insights in the reports, including suggestions and ideas for visitor attractions trying to navigate these difficult times.