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Opportunity to Engage with Tourism Recovery Working Group

Posted by Tourism NI

Published May 27, 2020

Covid-19 has had a profound effect across Northern Ireland and its economic impact has been most acutely felt by the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Opportunity to Engage with Tourism Recovery Working Group

Our tourism industry is part of a globally integrated ecosystem that has essentially shut down due to the closing of borders and air routes, the lockdown of entire regions and the consequent total loss of demand. Likewise, the domestic tourism and hospitality market has shut down as a result of the restrictions.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds announced the establishment of a Tourism Recovery Steering Group on 23 April to lead planning and preparation for the recovery of our tourism industry.

Due to the scale and complexity of the issues, including a very challenging budgetary environment, a cohesive, partnership approach between private sector stakeholders and partners across government is required.

The Minister has appointed the CEO of Tourism NI, John McGrillen, as chair of the Working Group that will facilitate broad engagement with stakeholders across the Northern Ireland tourism industry and secure their buy-in to a cohesive and collective response arising from the pandemic.

The primary purpose of the Working Group is to support the work of the Minister’s Tourism Recovery Steering Group. The Working Group will help to identify the key issues facing  sectors across tourism, consider required interventions, make recommendations to the Steering Group and identify potential resource requirements to implement the Working Group’s recommendations.

Role of the Tourism Recovery Working Group

The Tourism Recovery Working Group will:

  • Conduct an assessment of the immediate impact of COVID-19 on the Northern Ireland Tourism Industry;
  • Consider measures which will be required to protect the sector in the pre-recovery period;
  • Identify issues, barriers and constraints which need to be addressed;
  • Identify Research and Insights which may be required to support the work of the Group;
  • Help to inform, the guidance being developed to facilitate the lifting of Covid-19;
  • Identify ways to communicate to businesses and consumers, at the appropriate time, plans for the reopening of tourism and hospitality facilities.
  • Contribute to and secure industry support for TNI and TI destination marketing plans;
  • Assess implications of marketing and consumer research in the domestic, ROI, UK and subsequently global markets;
  • Provide recommendations and identify key actions relevant to supporting recovery and re-growing of the Sector in Northern Ireland; and
  • Identify the potential funding required to support recovery and how any such funding should be applied.


The Working Group has identified 10 "Task and Finish" groups that will consider the issues facing specific segments of the industry and bring these to the Working Group for consideration:

  • Air & Sea Connectivity
  • Ground Transport
  • Hospitality Industry Steering Group
  • Accommodation
  • Events
  • Trade
  • MICE
  • Attractions and Venues
  • Small Experience Providers
  • Golf

The diagram below illustrates the overall supporting structures and alignment of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce:

Working Group Membership

The Working Group membership includes the key tourism & hospitality representative bodies, a number of invited strategic stakeholders and the chairs of each of the identified Task & Finish Groups.

John McGrillen



Tourism Northern Ireland



Working Group Chair



Shane Clarke



Tourism Ireland



Working Group Member



Joanne Stuart



NI Tourism Alliance



Working Group Member



Janice Gault



NI Hotels Federation



Working Group Member



Colin Neill



Hospitality Ulster



Working Group Member



John Greer






Working Group Member



Gerry Lennon



Visit Belfast



Working Group Member



Rob Rankin






Working Group Member



Odhran Dunne



Visit Derry



Working Group Member



Roisin McKee






Working Group Member



Judith Owens



Titanic Belfast Limited



Working Group Member



Heather McLachlan



National Trust



Working Group Member



John Hood



Invest NI



Working Group Member



Albert Harrison



City of Derry Airport



Air & Sea Connectivity Chair



Karen Magill



Bus and Coach NI



Ground Transport Chair



Brian Murphy






Hospitality Chair



Stephen Meldrum



NI Hotels Federation



Accommodation Chair



Adrian Doyle



SSE Arena



Events Chair



David Boyce



Tourism Ireland



Trade Chair



Oonagh O’Reilly






MICE Chair



Laura McCorry



Historic Royal Palaces



Attractions and Venues Chair



Phil Ervine



Taste and Tour



Small Experience Providers Chair



Aileen Martin



Hastings Hotels



Golf Chair



Geraldine Fee



DfE, Tourism Policy



Working Group Member



John Simms



DfE, Tourism Policy



Working Group Member



Laura Loughridge



DfE, Air Connectivity



Working Group Member



Paul Donnelly






Working Group Member




The Working Group will:

  • Provide a single voice on recommended actions/measures to be put forward to the Steering Group for consideration in respect of the development of a Tourism Recovery Plan.
  • Engage with a wide range of experts and stakeholders through the Task & Finish Groups.
  • Undertake any research or advisory work commissioned by the Steering Group.
  • Provide ongoing feedback on the effectiveness of the Government and Executive’s response measures.
  • Provide ongoing feedback on the effectiveness of the implementation of the Recovery Plan


Opportunity to Get Involved

We want to ensure that all businesses and stakeholders underpinning the NI tourism industry have the opportunity to inform and influence the planning and preparations for recovery.  We are in the process of launching a new industry engagement platform which will be used to share updates on the work of the Working Group and to engage with the wider industry through discussion forums and surveys.  The new platform can be found here: 

Progress to Date

The Tourism Recovery Working Group led by Tourism NI and chaired by John McGrillen held its second meeting on Wednesday 20th May.  Key areas of discussion included:

  • Agreement of an initial set of priorities to raise with the Ministerial Steering Group
  • Development of operational guidelines
  • Proposed Tourism NI Marketing Campaign

Initial Priorities

The Working Group agreed an initial set of priorities to be tabled at the next meeting of the Steering Group on 19th June:

  • The need for a timeline to facilitate planning for re-opening;
  • Post-Covid-19 Operational Guidelines and clarity around the process for agreement and oversight;
  • The development and implementation of a nationally recognised safety kitemark/chartermark along with agreement on its oversight;
  • Regular, timely and relevant consumer sentiment analysis with a marketing campaign ready to run;
  • Ongoing relevant financial support mechanisms;
  • Grants and training to support implementation of new post COVID public health requirements

Posted by Tourism NI

Produced by Tourism NI