Dr Joanne Stuart, CEO of NITA joined the Minister for the Economy as she announced the publication of the Economic Recovery Action Plan which sets out a road map to rebuilding the economy from the impact of the pandemic. The Plan focuses on 4 key areas innovation, investment and a skilled workforce.
The Minister said: “As we move slowly back to normality, we must put all our efforts into restarting, repairing and rebuilding our economy. We must encourage businesses to innovate and lead and we must support workers to prepare for new opportunities.
“My Economic Recovery Action Plan is the blueprint to rebuild a stronger economy in Northern Ireland. We will focus on where we have the greatest opportunity to drive innovation and develop the skills and capability of our workforce to secure better jobs.”
The report identifies supporting a highly-skilled workforce, stimulating research and development, building a greener economy and promoting investment, trade and exports as the drivers to recovery.
It also identifies a number of actions the Department plans to take to stimulate growth. These include:
- the development of a flexible skills fund;
- widening access to apprenticeships by removing the age cap;
- developing proposals to implement a Northern Ireland artificial intelligence centre of excellence;
- delivering the High Street Stimulus Scheme;
- delivering a Tourism Voucher Scheme to stimulate demand;
- accelerating delivery of City and Growth Deals; and
- developing a green innovation challenge fund.
The Minister continued: “Throughout this pandemic I have done, and will continue to do, everything in my power to protect jobs and livelihoods.
“The discovery of a vaccine is a game-changer, however, allowing us to look beyond the current restrictions and plan for recovery. The Recovery Action Plan sets out a suite of decisive actions that will further the rebuilding agenda.
“Going forward our message must be clear – Northern Ireland is once again open for business, open for investment and open for visitors.”
There are number of actions relating to Tourism which cover demand stimulation across our home markets, Covid Holiday at Home voucher, product and experience development programmes, supporting regional connectivity and the development of a Sustainable and Regenerative Tourism Strategy. The cost of the total plan is £290M and the Minister will be submitting a paper to the Executive for the funding to take this forward.
Speaking at the launch of the plan, Dr Joanne Stuart, CEO of the NI Tourism Alliance (NITA), said: “NITA welcomes the Department’s Recovery Action Plan which recognises the importance of the tourism and travel industry as a key economic driver for regional economic recovery. The actions outlined within the report are critical to supporting the survival and rebuilding of the tourism industry and NITA look forward to continued engagement with the Minister through the Tourism Recovery Steering Group on the development of a sustainable Tourism Strategy.”
Angela McGowan, Director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Northern Ireland, said: “The CBI welcomes the Department for the Economy’s Recovery Action Plan. The emphasis on investing in skills, creating employment opportunities and stimulating investment and demand is strongly aligned with the CBI’s build-back-better proposals for a jobs-rich economic recovery.”
John McGrillen, Chief Executive Officer of Tourism NI, said: “I welcome the publication of this action plan as we continue to offer support towards the recovery of our tourism industry in partnership with the Department for the Economy. Many businesses have been severely impacted by the pandemic, but we have also witnessed huge resilience and a determination to adapt and survive.
“The recovery plan includes the development of a sustainable, regenerative Tourism Strategy focusing on economic growth, social wellbeing and the protection of the environment. The plan will also allow us to develop and deliver industry-wide training to the tourism sector, as well as campaigns and additional funding to provide the skills and capabilities to improve and grow product offerings and business models.”