Ibec launches major new campaign showcasing Ireland's Experience Economy
Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, today launches of a major new campaign to deliver a contemporary understanding of Ireland’s Experience Economy. The campaign outlines the policies needed to position the industry to overcome challenges posed by Covid and ultimately enable it to achieve its world class potential.
The Experience Economy is a contemporary expression and recognition of what is a dynamic and substantial part of Ireland’s business model. It operates across multiple sectors such as hospitality, retail, travel, food, drink, tourism, and entertainment, as well as encompassing organisations in the arts, cultural, sporting and heritage sectors. It extends far deeper than the surface of the traditional ‘front of house’ image, reaching into the wider supply chain that is embedded in communities across the island.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Ibec Director of Membership & Sectors, Sharon Higgins, said: “There are few places across the island of Ireland that are untouched by the Experience Economy. The benefits of this diverse industry are seen in rural and urban environments, extending to the most remote settings and bringing vibrancy and jobs to communities. Prior to Covid, over 330,000 people were either employed by or supported directly by demand from the industry. The industry spent almost €4 billion every year on purchases of goods and services pre-Covid, including over €1 billion in purchases from domestic food and drink suppliers.
“However, the Experience Economy has borne the brunt of the Covid crisis and many thousands of businesses are now at risk of failure. These businesses need far greater certainty than what has been provided to date. Government must set out as much detail as possible on how it will support businesses and jobs in the sector over the medium-term.
“The business supports delivered by Government in response to Covid have been largely effective in preserving firms and supporting employees. However, the length of the public health restrictions has meant that business debt levels have risen sharply. Unless further measures are taken both before and in line with reopening, large scale business failures and redundancies are inevitable.”
Ibec’s campaign looks beyond the immediate Covid challenges too. Technology and digitalisation have driven innovation in the Experience Economy over the last decade. However, this same digital technology has continually disrupted the tourism industry globally, with new business models for accommodation, transportation, and marketing emerging. To support growth post-Covid, the sector will need to embrace technology and innovation to create new dynamic visitor experiences in line with changing landscape and consumer behaviour. Underpinning this will be the need for a highly educated, highly skilled workforce.
Furthermore, the current levels of investment are inadequate to sustain employment and enterprise across the Experience Economy. Poor investment in tourism promotion and marketing along with the need to upgrade attractions and infrastructure are the main challenges for the Experience Economy. Investment will be needed in international accessibility, sustainable travel such as 24-hour public transport, and the continued development of greenways and blueways.
Amongst the key policy asks from Ibec:
• Remove the cap in the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme
• Avoid a cliff-edge in changes to existing supports
• Provide medium-term commitment to 9% VAT
• Develop a resourced, high level, end-to-end Experience Economy Skills Strategy
• Reduce the barriers to access new skills and expertise
• Launch a national innovation funding call for the Experience Economy
• Invest in supporting infrastructure, new product development and marketing
• Support development and enhancement of the Experience Economy
• Become a global leader for sustainable and smart experiences
• Maximise the all-island opportunities for the sector