Fáilte Ireland unveils 2022 plans for tourism recovery, but availability of staff remains a major challenge

  • Doubling of investment in domestic marketing to €10million compared to 2019 to encourage people to take additional short breaks among 2022 priorities
  • Strong recovery in inbound tourism based on air access projected to be 83% of 2019 levels
  • Staffing and cost inflation most significant challenges currently facing tourism sector
  • Package of measures unveiled to support industry as it seeks to fill estimated 40,000 vacancies including new Excellent Employer Programme to build appeal of working in tourism and hospitality

Fáilte Ireland is today unveiling its priorities for 2022 to support the recovery of the tourism industry at a special in-person event attended by over 800 representatives from tourism and hospitality at the Convention Centre Dublin.

Fáilte Ireland unveils 2022 plans for tourism recovery, but availability of staff remains a major challenge

Among the plans outlined today at the event, entitled ‘From Survival to Recovery’, is a doubling of the domestic marketing investment to drive short breaks year-round; further investment in the digital presence of tourism businesses; four Regional Tourism Strategies for Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, Dublin and Wild Atlantic Way; 27 local Destination Development Plans which will be critical to driving the long-term recovery of tourism across Ireland; and plans to reduce tourism’s carbon footprint.

Fáilte Ireland has today also presented its largest and most robust research undertaken to date on staffing and skills in the tourism and hospitality sector.

With 30% of businesses surveyed saying their business could face closure if recruitment challenges aren’t resolved, Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly today warned that “staffing and competitiveness are the two most significant challenges facing the recovery of tourism in 2022. The pandemic has had a profound impact on the industry’s skill base, with a mass exodus of workers into other industries that reopened earlier.”

Download a copy of Fáilte Ireland’s Tourism Careers Labour Research here

Outlining Fáilte Ireland’s plans to drive recovery of the sector in 2022 Paul Kelly continued:

“Today marks what we hope will be the transition from survival to a sustained and sustainable recovery. Tourism is a building block for regional balance and a critical contributor to social cohesion. It is essential for creating sustainable communities and a significant generator of jobs in regional and rural Ireland. As a critical part of the national economy, only when tourism recovers can there be a nationwide recovery.”

“The plans we have set out today aim to continue to drive domestic demand with a €10million domestic marketing investment to drive short breaks year-round. Looking to the season ahead, we expect a strong recovery in inbound tourism with forecasts indicating that we will regain 83% of 2019’s air passenger capacity by the end of the year. Fáilte Ireland will support the industry to capitalise on this growth through the implementation of our 4 regional brand tourism strategies and more localised Destination Development Plans.”

A major element of Fáilte Ireland’s work plan for 2022 is a multifaceted tourism careers strategy to address the staffing and skills crisis in tourism and hospitality including the first ever Excellent Employer Programme.

Jenny De Saulles, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Sector Development, outlines Fáilte Ireland’s response to the acute staffing and skills crisis:

As the economy fully reopens, competition for skilled workers is at an all-time high so our industry needs to drive immediate changes to retain existing and to attract new staff. There are three key action areas where Fáilte Ireland will support industry. Fundamentally they are about getting the people, keeping the people and upskilling the people – and each of these go hand in hand. If you have good retention and development programmes, people are more likely to want to work for you. Staff shortages existed pre-Covid but the pandemic and its impact on the stability of the sector along with the universal changes in working patterns has compounded the issue.

“The package of supports announced today will help businesses in their immediate recruitment efforts and help them to commit to driving long-term change to make the industry an appealing and rewarding workplace that can attract and retain talent. Our new Excellent Employer Programme will support businesses to do that, and ultimately give the wider industry a platform to build back bigger and stronger, creating a fundamental shift in employee perception that will support the long-term repositioning of the tourism and hospitality industry and ensure a future pipeline of talent.”

Fáilte Ireland today detailed a range of initiatives to address the industry’s immediate recruitment efforts including support focused on accessing local and international talent pools; practical supports on implementing a comprehensive recruitment strategy including how to advertise roles effectively and successful interviewing in a competitive market; onboarding for the long term with one in three employees now new to the sector.

Central to the plans is a new Excellent Employer Programmeto support tourism and hospitality businesses to demonstrate their commitment to being rewarding and appealing workplaces, that can compete for and retain skilled employees. Through the programme, businesses will have access to HR and people management training, and the opportunity to become certified as a top employer through an employee survey.

Fáilte Ireland will also provide participating businesses with tailored supports to action the key development areas highlighted in the staff survey. The aim is to support businesses to continuously improve their workplace and enhance their appeal to existing and potential employees.

Further priorities to support the recovery of the tourism industry outlined today by Fáilte Ireland include:

  • Driving demand through a €10million investment in domestic marketing including sponsorship of the RTÉ weather, to encourage people to take additional short breaks in Ireland.
  • Enhancing the digital capabilities of over 400 tourism businesses through Fáilte Ireland’s Digital that Delivers programme.
  • Digital audit of over 800 hotels to be conducted and a suite of digital supports to ensure businesses are visible, searchable, and most importantly, bookable.
  • Leading the drive towards a more sustainable tourism sector by developing a carbon reporting framework to benchmark the performance of Irish tourism businesses and carbon calculators and supports to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Development and implementation of four Regional Tourism Strategies in Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Dublin and 27 localised Destination Development Plans which will be critical to driving the long-term recovery of tourism across Ireland.
  • Administering €50million through further phases of the Tourism Business Continuity Programme of funding which will help sustain strategic tourism businesses in 2022 and drive the sustainable recovery of the sector.

Welcoming Fáilte Ireland’s plans Minister Catherine Martin said: “The significant lifting of restrictions announced by An Taoiseach was the start of a new beginning for tourism and hospitality. With a more positive outlook for inbound tourism, there is hope that in 2022, we will see real recovery for the sector.

“The Government remains committed to supporting the tourism sector as we move from the survival phase towards recovery. The comprehensive plans for tourism recovery in 2022 announced by Fáilte Ireland today focus on supporting tourism businesses through both financial and practical supports, driving domestic and international demand in a globally competitive market, developing destination experiences across the country and addressing the staff and skills shortage in the industry.”

Commenting on the Fáilte Ireland research Ruth Andrews, Chairperson of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC), said “Labour supply is a critical issue for Irish tourism businesses and a multi-faceted strategy will be needed to support the industry rebuild and fully recovery. As demand increases from both the domestic market and international tourist, it is vital that the retention and recruitment of staff remains a number one priority, and in this context Fáilte Ireland has a vital role to play alongside industry.” Andrews also added that tourism was Ireland’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer and said, “No other industry can provide regional economic balance as tourism can and sustainability and competitiveness will be central to recovery”.

Staffing Shortage Background:

A strategic focus for Fáilte Ireland in 2022 is to position tourism and hospitality as an industry that is appealing and rewarding to work in and to support businesses in overcoming the labour supply and skills shortages challenges that they are currently experiencing.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on labour supply which has led to a chronic skills shortage across the tourism and hospitality industry. The loss of skilled workers and the difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff are among the greatest barriers to the sector’s recovery. Compounding this is the prevailing negative narrative that exists about working in the tourism and hospitality industry.

Fáilte Ireland has developed a multifaceted tourism careers strategy to support the industry in addressing these urgent challenges. To help inform this strategy, we recently conducted our most comprehensive research to date on the tourism and hospitality labour market.

This robust and wide-ranging research programme covers the following:

  • Views of industry on recruitment, retention and vacancy levels – two separate surveys with over 1,000 businesses taking part;
  • Views of 3,500 workers with tourism and hospitality experience;
  • International benchmarking;
  • Reviewing level of education provision in tourism and hospitality;
  • Consultation with recruitment agencies.

The new Tourism Careers Labour Research published today represents the views of 1,000 businesses and 3,500 employees within tourism and hospitality.

Key findings include:

  • Fáilte Ireland estimates that there are 40,000 vacancies across the tourism and hospitality. The unfilled roles are across every level, from front of house to middle management where 25% of the vacancies lie.
  • Relative attractiveness of jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector have been impacted by the pandemic due to increased competition with other sectors that reopened sooner.
  • Four in ten workers on PUP did not return to their pre-pandemic employer and one in three workers are new to the industry compounding the skills gap that existed pre pandemic.
  • Roles in demand include food and beverage workers and managers, including chefs, hotel managers and sales and marketing professionals driving inbound tourism.
  • The research accounts for the views of 3,500 workers in the industry with over 70% of those surveyed claiming to be passionate about their job and see a long-term career in the industry
  • Areas where the industry can make positive changes to drive employee engagement and satisfaction include offering flexibility and stability around shift patterns so that employees can plan and have a greater work life balance, offering reward for working unsociable hours – either more pay or time off in lieu – and offering career progression opportunities.

Overview of Fáilte Ireland’s Actions to Address Staffing Shortages

Fáilte Ireland has identified three key priority areas in addressing labour supply challenges across the industry in the year ahead:

  • Launch of new Excellent Employer programme to support businesses to become recognised excellent employers which will allow them to compete for and retain the staff they need in the long-term. An annual employee survey will inform the business on what they are doing well and identify areas for development. Access to advice and practical supports to help them address these development areas will also be provided.
  • Supporting recruitment to drive recovery: Supporting the industry to address the immediate labour and skills supply challenges, which will be critical to the short-medium term recovery of the sector.
  • Supporting businesses to work together to drive consistent application of HR best practice in order to make the industry an appealing and rewarding career choice and ensure a future pipeline of talent.
  • Building employee capability and skills: Building the capability of individual employees to help businesses to bridge the skills gaps they are experiencing and also drive greater employee retention by improving the quality of training across the business.

Fáilte Ireland additional Priorities for 2022

  • Driving Demand

€10million investment in domestic marketing, will build on the success of Fáilte Ireland’s Keep Discovering campaign with a view to maximising home holidays across regions and counties. A key priority for 2022 will also be providing a range of distribution growth and sales promotion platforms to help destinations and individual businesses drive domestic and international sales.

  • Destination Development

Implementing 4 regional tourism strategies for Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Ancient East, Dublin and Wild Atlantic Way and 27 localised Destination Experience Development Plans which will be critical to driving the long-term recovery and development of tourism in every region and destination. Business Tourism is one of the industry’s highest-earning sectors. In Q2, we’ll announce a new strategy to reboot this area of the sector and continue our work winning future conferences and events for Ireland in collaboration with industry such as Game One of the 5-year American Football series which will see Northwestern and Nebraska visit Dublin in August of this year with an anticipated 18,000 fans travelling.

  • Digital Enhancement

Enhancing the digital capabilities of tourism businesses through Fáilte Ireland’s Digital that Delivers programme to ensure businesses are visible, searchable and most importantly bookable. Over 400 businesses across the attractions and activities sector will avail of the programme in 2022. In Q4, Fáilte Ireland will conduct a digital maturity audit of all hotels in the country, producing individual reports that identify the right supports to be delivered in 2023 and beyond.

  • Sustainability

Lead the drive towards a more sustainable tourism sector by developing and adopting a carbon reporting framework to benchmark the performance of Irish tourism and developing carbon calculators and reporting tools to enable businesses to record their carbon reduction initiatives. Fáilte Ireland will also conduct a study on what is required for sustainable tourism transport within Ireland and provide businesses with toolkits and training on specific steps they can take to reduce their own Carbon footprint.

  • Survival

Ensuring the survival of the sector by administering €50million in funding through further phases of Fáilte Ireland’s Tourism Business Continuity Programme which will help sustain strategic tourism businesses in 2022. Fáilte Ireland’s online supports hub will feature 80 existing tools and also 30 new tools created to help businesses improve their performance in key areas such as Finance, Sales and Marketing, Digital, Channel management and Sustainability. Through business mentoring programmes, Fáilte Ireland will be offering best in class individually tailored expert advice to over 500 Businesses.

Fáilte Ireland

As the National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland’s role is to support the long-term sustainable growth in the economic, social, cultural and environmental contribution of tourism to Ireland. Tourism is of critical importance to the national economy and to regional development and employment. Pre-coronavirus, the sector generated revenue of €7.5billion annually and supported 260,000 jobs nationwide while contributing €1.7billion to the Exchequer.

We work in partnership with Government, State agencies, Local Authorities, representative groups and industry, to develop tourism across Ireland by creating destination development plans and networks, investing in infrastructure, activities, visitor attractions and festivals. Fáilte Ireland also provides consumer and buyer insights, mentoring, business supports and training programmes and buyer platforms to help tourism businesses innovate and grow.

In addition, Fáilte Ireland supports Business Tourism, managing the bidding for and securing of larger conferences, meetings and events to be hosted in Ireland.

We are also responsible for domestic holiday marketing across four regional experience brands: Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Dublin.

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