Support for the Falklands' tourism sector in the face of Covid-19 was an issue closely examined in the Legislative Assembly this week. Questions were put to the House by Member of Legislative Assembly MLA Roger Spink and answered by Member of Legislative Assembly Mark Pollard.
MLA Spink asked MLA Pollard to advise the House regarding Falkland Islands Government support for the Tourism sector in the face of Covid-19:
• What work has been undertaken to date to assess the likely requirements?
• What further work and information is required?
• The process and timescale for deciding on how any support deemed essential will be delivered?
MLA Pollard began by saying that the Government recognized the importance of the tourism sector to the Falkland Islands and was keenly aware of the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic was having on tourist visitation numbers across the globe.
He said: “With that in mind, and as we prepare for the upcoming summer, the Government has been working to understand not only the possible extent of the effects of the pandemic on the Falkland Islands tourism industry but also the manner in which it can best assist those whose livelihoods depend on tourism.”
He said consideration was being given to the effects of the pandemic not only on cruise ship tourism but also land-based tourism, being given to the effects of the pandemic not only on businesses in Stanley but also in Camp.
He added that, “consideration is being given to the effects of the pandemic not only on businesses, but also the employees of those businesses and those who are self-employed.”
MLA Pollard concluded: “The Government is also fully taking into account the public health considerations related to any decisions that may be made in regard to tourist visitation.”
What work has been undertaken to date to assess the likely requirements?
MLA Pollard said work completed to date by the Department of Policy and Economic Development had included the development of a number of scenarios for the tourism sector.
These scenarios which describe what might unfold over the next twelve months had been developed with two main variables in mind:
1. The degree to the global economy is in recovery or in recession and;
2. The degree to which local containment measures are in place which will affect border controls and consequently tourism visitation
The resulting analysis had led, he said, to FIG focussing on two primary scenarios:
Scenario 1: Irrespective of what happens to tourism demand globally, visitors were not allowed by the Government to enter into the Falkland Islands, thus tourist arrivals are nil.
Scenario 2: Current travel restrictions were lifted but global travel flows and tourism demand remained largely subdued with visitation to the Falkland Islands down by as much as 80%.
These scenarios had been shared and discussed with the Falkland Islands Tourist Board and the Falkland Islands Tourism Association who in turn had also shared information with the Government about the perspectives of businesses in the tourism sector.
What further work and information is required?
The Department of Policy and Economic Development was now working to determine how best to help businesses in the tourism sector over the course of the upcoming summer season should these scenarios unfold said MLA Pollard.
He said: “The work includes identifying the various types of business engaged in the sector and then determining the continued applicability and relevance of the current suite of general business support measures that were introduced earlier this year in response to the pandemic.”
He explained: “The Department is also examining the potential costs and benefits of additional industry wide measures and initiatives that might help to best position the tourism sector for the future.
“Further engagement with the Falkland Islands Tourist Board and the Falkland Islands Tourism Association will continue as the work proceeds.”
The process and timescale for deciding on how any support deemed essential will be delivered?
MLA Pollard said: “Recommendations resulting from this work will be presented to MLAs and ExCo, for consideration, before the end of July with announcements as to decisions made shortly thereafter.”