| 8.9°C Belfast

Holiday at home voucher scheme plan is scrapped


Gordon Lyons. Credit: Liam McBurney

Gordon Lyons. Credit: Liam McBurney

Gordon Lyons. Credit: Liam McBurney

A hospitality chief has claimed “Christmas is disappearing before our eyes” after a planned holiday at home voucher scheme was dumped.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons confirmed the news to MLAs yesterday.

Under the scheme, which proposed to boost the local tourism sector, households would have been eligible to claim 50% off a two-night stay in accommodation up to the value of £100.

The vouchers would also have offered 50% off visits to tourist attractions up to the value of £20.

Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said he was disappointed by the development.

Mr Lyons told the Assembly the Executive had not given its support to the proposal after officials found it would not provide value for money.

Despite this, he had urged fellow ministers to reconsider, arguing it would have provided a “significant economic boost” to the struggling tourism and hospitality sector.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

“Unfortunately, the holiday at home scheme is now not proceeding,” he said yesterday.

“I had looked forward to being able to bring the scheme through because I recognise the difficult time that hotels and the hospitality industry more generally has had over the last number of months.

“I had brought this to my department, they were considering the business case for the scheme, but we’re unable to confirm that it offered value for money.

“However, because I believed that it would give that much-needed boost, and combined private and public sector money, that it would have been worth considering.

“So, I therefore issued a ministerial direction to my departmental accounting officer and that required it to be taken to the Executive or the Minister of Finance.

“Unfortunately, the Executive was not willing to approve the scheme and neither was the Department of Finance, so unfortunately it will now not be able to progress.”

Mr Neill said: “I am disappointed but not surprised at the news, especially at a time when our industry is on its knees.

“While this scheme would have been for accommodation costs, it would have brought more people into our towns and cities, benefiting hospitality businesses. The industry is seeing Christmas disappear before our eyes.”

Janice Gault of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation told the BBC: “In reality, this was a scheme that would have come in at a good time. The idea was it would have acted as a stimulus for the last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year — a time when we’re traditionally very quiet. It would applied across all sectors of the accommodation industry.

“We understand the sensitivities around it, but I think when we have a had a very rough year of trading, it would have been nice to see the scheme go ahead.”

Top Videos