Ireland's tourism board Fáilte Ireland has unveiled its plans for 2022 to support the recovery of the Irish tourism industry following almost two years of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The plan, entitled "From Survival to Recovery", will see a doubling of investment in domestic marketing to €10 million in order to encourage more short breaks around Ireland throughout the year. 

It also includes four regional strategies for Dublin, Ireland's Ancient East, the Wild Atlantic Way, and Ireland's Hidden Heartlands, while it also features 27 "Destination Development Plans". 

The plan additionally includes a "Digital That Delivers" program, which aims to enhance the digital capabilities of more than 400 Irish tourism businesses. 

Fáilte Ireland will also conduct a digital audit of more than 800 Irish hotels and will be ensuring that businesses are "visible, searchable, and most importantly, bookable". 

The national tourism development authority said that inflation and staff shortages remain two of the biggest challenges facing the Irish tourism industry in 2022. 

There are an estimated 40,000 vacancies across the Irish tourism sector, with unfilled roles across every level from front of house to middle management. 

"Staffing and competitiveness are the two most significant challenges facing the recovery of tourism in 2022. The pandemic has had a profound impact on the industry’s skill base, with a mass exodus of workers into other industries that reopened earlier," Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly said in a statement. 

Jenny De Saulles, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Sector Development, outlined the tourism board's response to the staff and skills crisis in the tourism and hospitality industry. 

De Saulles said competition for skilled workers is at an "all-time high" and added that the tourism industry needed to adapt to attract new staff and retain existing workers. 

"There are three key action areas where Fáilte Ireland will support industry. Fundamentally they are about getting the people, keeping the people, and upskilling the people – and each of these go hand in hand. If you have good retention and development programs, people are more likely to want to work for you," De Saulles said. 

"The package of supports announced today will help businesses in their immediate recruitment efforts and help them to commit to driving long-term change to make the industry an appealing and rewarding workplace that can attract and retain talent." 

Kelly added that he hoped the publication of the plan would enable the "transition from survival to a sustained and sustainable recovery". 

"Tourism is a building block for regional balance and a critical contributor to social cohesion. It is essential for creating sustainable communities and a significant generator of jobs in regional and rural Ireland. As a critical part of the national economy, only when tourism recovers can there be a nationwide recovery." 

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