Kilkenny’s tourism and hospitality sector - vital to the county’s economic recovery - have been hit badly by the cancellation of the Arts Festival
There are growing fears that Kilkenny will be disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic due to its reliance on tourism and festivals.
Local TD Malcolm Noonan has raised concerns around the tourism sector with Minister of State Brendan Griffin in the Dáil. He says Kilkenny will need a package of supports to help trade through the economic impact of the pandemic.
The Green Party TD said that it was unlikely that tourism would ever fully recover from the crisis. Despite the innovation and adaptability shown by the sector through economic challenges, Deputy Noonan said greater State supports such as direct cash grants, supports to local authorities and a recalibration of Fáilte Ireland’s marketing campaign towards ‘staycations’ were needed.
“With the cancellation of Kilkenny Arts Festival, we are now looking at a possible full year without any festivals in Kilkenny,” he said.
“I commend Olga Barry and her team for all they have done to date but they have made the right decision. In that regard, I raised the matter with the Minister last week, citing a report by Fáilte Ireland on the value of cultural activities to local economies and I asked him to support these festivals to trade through the current crisis and survive so that they can begin programming for 2021.”
Deputy Noonan also spoke of a need for outdoor activities funding for local authorities — playgrounds, greenways and blueways. He said the staycation should become the mainstay of Irish holidaymakers to keep funds in local economies, and due to uncertainty over air travel.
“I asked the Minister to commit to the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme for councils for 2020,” said Deputy Noonan.
“Kilkenny County Council has made great use of this fund in the past and will be critical to ensuring that we have a range of facilities that are suitable to social distancing for families.
“Our tourism and hospitality sector are vital to the economic recovery as they were when we emerged from the last economic downturn. It is important that the State supports the sector to recover and continue to provide the great services they do to enhance visitor experiences. I think it’s incumbent on us all now to spend locally, to holiday in Ireland and to support our local cafes, restaurants and hotels as restrictions are lifted in coming months.”