NI Holiday at Home voucher: Gordon Lyons confirms proposed scheme will no longer go ahead


Northern Ireland’s Holiday at Home scheme will no longer go ahead, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has confirmed.

The scheme had been delayed and was due to be launched by the Department for Economy this autumn.

It was designed to help boost the tourism industry following the coronavirus pandemic, by allowing visitors to claim back a percentage of their spend on accommodation and attractions in Northern Ireland after their visit.

It would have allowed Northern Ireland households to claim back 50% off a stay of two nights or more in certified accommodation, up to the value of £100.

Vouchers were also to be issued, offering 50% off visits to attractions or tourism experience providers, up to the value of £20.

When quizzed about the Holiday at Home voucher scheme by South Antrim DUP MLA Pam Cameron on Monday, Mr Lyons told the Assembly that the Executive had not given its support to the initiative after departmental officials found it would not provide value for money.

He said the scheme would have delivered a “significant economic boost” to the region.

“I thought that would have been a really good way to boost the economy and keep the hospitality and hotel sector, in particular, going during those really difficult months of January, February and March time,” he said.

The minister added: “I’m very disappointed that I wasn’t able to secure support for what could have been really beneficial measures during a really difficult time.”

Mr Lyons said he had secured £6.5 million to boost tourism marketing activity in the remainder of the financial year.

“I hope in some way that that does help those businesses that are struggling,” he said.

The minister said £1.6 million of money spent through the Executive’s other flagship stimulus initiative – the High Street voucher scheme – had been spent with tourism providers.

In October, officials said they were currently considering the “suitability” of Northern Ireland’s Holiday at Home scheme, with consumer demand levels and the impact of the High Street vouchers set to be key to its roll out.

The Holiday at Home scheme would have differed to the recently rolled out Spend Local initiative.

As opposed to the High Street Voucher Scheme, which is a £100 voucher that can be applied for by all those over the age of 18 in Northern Ireland, the Holiday at Home Voucher Scheme would only be applied for by households on a first-come first-served basis.

Each household in the region could apply for one type of each voucher, which could then be claimed back by uploading their receipt and voucher details online.

Vouchers, which would have been allocated on a first come first served basis, would also have offered 50% off visits to tourist attractions, up to the value of £20.

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