Coronoavirus: 1,300 permanent lay-offs in Northern Ireland's tourism sector

By Richard Morgan
BBC News NI business reporter

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image copyrightPA Media
image captionTitanic Belfast, a major attraction, has seen visitor numbers drop 50% on this time last year

Tourism Northern Ireland has "major concerns" over coronavirus' long-term effect on the industry, after a survey showed that 1,300 tourism workers have permanently lost their jobs.

The organisation carried out the industry-wide survey before Easter.

It received responses from 1,300 organisations, with 708 of those described as being "fully completed".

Tourism NI chief executive John McGrillen said the findings confirmed the major effect Covid-19 was having.

Half of businesses that responded to the online survey had cut staff, with 9,000 people furloughed, laid off or made temporarily redundant across 427 firms.

A further 1,300 full-time, part-time and seasonal workers have been laid off permanently.

Tourism and hospitality were two of the first sectors to suffer from coronavirus' global spread, as many people cancelled travel plans and governments imposed restrictions.

The industries fears they could be the last to recover if lockdown restrictions are eased on a phased basis.

On Monday, a Stormont grant scheme opened for applications that will see businesses within those sectors receive £25,000 to keep them afloat through the crisis.

Tourism Northern Ireland has said many of the businesses surveyed are unsure if they are eligible for the support, which could create further cash flow problems.

"It is clear, however, that further, ongoing support and guidance will be required to allow many businesses to survive," said Mr McGrillen.

"We will also use this information to continue to reshape our own support to businesses, as well as inform the development of a sector-wide response plan," he added.