Top Hospitality Group Calls For Urgent Action To Protect 50,000 Jobs
The managing director of one of Northern Ireland’s largest hospitality groups is calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to urgently find a safe and sustainable way to protect the sector from the devastating impact of any new lockdown restrictions.
The Executive will meet later on Thursday to review the recent rise in Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland and is expected to discuss measures to mitigate its spread.
Galgorm Collection Managing Director, Colin Johnston, who runs Northern Irelands premier luxury Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, is warning the Executive that unless a balanced way forward is found to protect health, jobs and livelihoods, up to 75% of jobs within the sector could go by Christmas.
“The industry reopened at the start of July and has been trading safely and sustainably during this time. If this cannot continue, our people must be in a position to be able to provide for their families. In the face of the very serious issues being discussed, support must be found to ensure that the entire hospitality sector and all its potential is not lost for at least an entire generation,” Colin Johnston said.
The stark reality is that if we enter another period of lockdown without any measures in place to safely sustain the industry, and a vital component of our economy, up to three quarters of hospitality jobs will be lost by Christmas.”
More than 750 team members are employed at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, with 900 employed across the Galgorm Collection range of hospitality businesses which includes Café Parisien and Fratelli in Belfast, The Rabbit at Templepatrick and Castle Kitchen and Bar in Ballymena. The company has invested more than £60 million in the sector over two decades.
Colin Johnston said, “As a resort that places the health and safety of our guests and team members as our absolute priority, we understand that everyone’s health is vitally important however we must urgently find a way forward to protect jobs and livelihoods and the very future of tourism and hospitality industry in Northern Ireland.”
The Northern Ireland tourism industry accounts for more than 65,000 jobs and was on track this year to deliver a record £1 billion in visitor spend. In recent years, Northern Ireland has cemented its status on the world stage as a must-visit destination with its rich tourism, culture and heritage offering supplemented by major international events including The Open Championship in July last year.
Earlier this year, Tourism Northern Ireland launched a new destination brand, ‘Embrace a Giant Spirit’, to promote Northern Ireland on the national and international stage. The Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance, established in 2018, had also forecast the sector would an additional 25,000 future jobs based on its growth potential.
One of the world’s premier, luxury hotel and spa resorts, Galgorm’s Colin Johnston is now calling for greater clarity from the Executive in relation to its plans, strategy and expected outcomes from its interventions and stressed the need for much greater contact and collaboration with the tourism and hospitality sector so that decision makers can clearly understand the impacts of the measures being taken.
Colin said, “We requested to meet with the Minister of Health, Robin Swann, and his advisors, on 18th August to open a meaningful dialogue and to create a forum where information and views could be routinely shared. Unfortunately, this was never reciprocated. We must have a collaborative approach to find the best way forward for the sake of our economy, our people and everyone’s health and wellbeing.”
Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort reopened on 27th July, following an 18 week shut down, in line with public health and government guidance and has been a champion for the industry nationally and internationally in prioritising the health and safety of its team members and guests.
The Resort was one of the UK’s first hospitality businesses to secure the new AA COVID Confident Mark for its health and safety commitment and was also a champion for the ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry standard, in partnership with Tourism Northern Ireland and Visit Britain.
For more information visit www.galgorm.com or for more information on Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort’s Hygiene Commitment visit www.galgorm.com/ourcommitment.html.