Fáilte Ireland is to unveil plans for a €55 million aid package aimed at tourism businesses previously unable to access Covid-19-related aid.
The Tourism Business Continuity Scheme will include individual grants for cash-strapped companies desperate to survive the pandemic from €3,750 up to €200,000.
An online Survive to Thrive industry event on Monday, expected to be watched by thousands of operators, providers and employers in the sector, will also set out separate funding plans to improve outdoor dining spaces for a hospitality sector that hopes to attract customers as Covid restrictions are relaxed.
The funding scheme is targeted at businesses that did not qualify for the Government's Covid Restrictions Support Scheme or other Fáilte Ireland packages to help them meet ongoing costs.
The first phase will be launched later this month, with a focus on outdoor businesses such as bike tours, surfing and kayaking schools, cruise hire, not-for-profit visitor attractions, golf courses with a tourism offering and eligible caravan and camping providers.
Its eagerly anticipated launch will provide relief to parts of an industry whose overall revenue has declined by €6 billion and which has seen the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.
The tourism development authority will also announce a major push for its domestic marketing plans, including its investment in outdoor dining and urban animation projects comprising lighting and art installations.
In his address to Monday's event, Fáilte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly will acknowledge that businesses in urban areas have lost more during the Covid-19 crisis than those along the Wild Atlantic Way or other parts of the State that were able to salvage part of last summer with a "short but strong domestic season".
“Some sectors within tourism have not benefited as much as others from government supports. We will be talking about how we will be seeking to improve this situation,” he will tell the conference.
Despite the unpredictable nature of Covid-19 variants and the rollout of vaccines, the tourism authority is confident that some form of domestic activity will return during the summer.
Its focus will be firmly set on the “staycation” market in the short term to stimulate spending. The strategy will market Dublin in particular.
The authority is expecting a slow return of visitors from countries closer to Ireland, followed by the rest of Continental Europe, the US and, eventually, other long-haul consumers.
Its positive outlook for the year ahead is also based on the hope that increased domestic saving – a by-product of pandemic restrictions – will feed into tourism spending once the economy reopens.