The Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance (NITA) has marked the successful conclusion of a year in business with a Members’ Forum at Riddel Hall in Belfast.
The NITA was founded last year to provide a single unified voice for the hospitality and tourism industries here on issues of concern.
Addressing an audience of key players from the public and private sectors, Brenda Morgan, chair of NITA, provided a progress review. She told the gathering that the rapid growth in membership of the Alliance reflected a demand for progress on the topics that were important to the sector.
‘From the outset we have identified VAT and APD as massive obstacles which are putting a brake on our industry’s growth,’ she added. ‘Air Passenger Duty…is the highest tax of its kind in the world while, at the same time, the UK’s 20 per cent tourism VAT rate is amongst the highest in Europe, putting us at a huge disadvantage when the Republic imposes a rate of just 13.5 per cent. Those are two major issues which unite our industry and, working together, we will continue to push government for positive reform.’
Brenda promised that as 2019 progressed, NITA would be visiting all parts of Northern Ireland t consult face-to-face with its members on their issues of concern and to hear first-hand how they believed the current difficulties around the sourcing of skilled staff should be handled.
‘Northern Ireland is making up for a lot of lost ground and tourism remains vulnerable. The uncertainties surrounding Brexit have only added to our legitimate concerns, adding a difficult and, as yet, unmanageable layer of complexity,’ she added. ‘However, as we teeter on the brink of making ours a billion-pound-a-year industry, we have been given a tantalising glimpse of just how successful we could be in the future, if we receive the support and recognition which our sector so clearly merits.’
Brenda also said that NITA remained fully committed to supporting the sector as it worked with Tourism Ireland and Tourism NI on their goal to double sectoral income to £2bn annually by 2025.
Tourism is already making a massive contribution to Northern Ireland PLC, and NITA is fully committed to supporting the sector as, together, we work with Tourism Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland to double tourism income to £2Billion annually by 2025.