The £ 2million home holiday voucher scheme has now been phased out, and other ways to support the tourism industry are being considered instead, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
The program aimed to offer households in Northern Ireland a £ 100 voucher for a two-night stay in accommodation once paid for, or a £ 20 voucher for a visit to a tourist attraction.
The Economics Department had said it was reviewing the program’s relevance in light of the sustained summer trade and possible spending that could be spent on tourism through the £ 145million Spend Local retail voucher scheme. .
When asked if and when the program would launch, a spokesperson for the department said: “The minister remains committed to doing what he can to help the tourism and hospitality sector as he continues to face the impact of the pandemic.
“We are thinking about the best way to provide this support. “
It is understood that funding for the program is included in unspent funds of £ 41million which is returned by the DfE to the executive.
The vacation program and the Spend Local program were both part of the ministry’s Economic Recovery Action Plan (ERAP).
Colum McLornan, co-owner of the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle, said the department had ‘promised too much’ on the project, which was first discussed last year and was due to be launched in the fall.
“We have heard that this has been happening for a long time, and obviously it has come to nothing at this point,” he said.
“We are disappointed that this is not happening as we were relying on this to encourage midweek stays in January, February and March when it can be quiet and a hard sell.
“But maybe the department promised too much in the beginning, having both the retail voucher program and the Holiday at Home program.
“In fact, a number of people used the £ 100 voucher in the hotel, and it gave us a boost.”