IRELAND'S battered tourism industry is set for a 'Biden bounce' after the Covid-19 pandemic as the next US President's pride in his Irish ancestry is set to kick-start a recovery on the money-spinning north American market.
Tourism expert and 'futurist', Valentina Doorly, said Joe Biden's pride in his Irish roots in both Mayo and Louth could not have come at a better time for Ireland as the global tourism sector seeks to recover from the worst industry shock since World War II.
The €9bn tourism and hospitality industry has launched a campaign through the Irish Hospitality Institute (IHI) to retain skilled workers for the recovery of the sector after the Covid-19 pandemic.
With one-in-ten jobs accounted for by the tourism-hospitality sector, the retention of skilled staff is now considered critical for the ability of the industry to bounce back in 2021 with the roll-out of vaccines set to bring the virus crisis to an end.
Fears over staff retention have mounted as hotels, restaurants and pubs have been hit by the Level Five lockdown - and fears that further major lockdowns could be triggered before the full roll-out of vaccines.
Many are now worried that staff will switch to other sectors - and that potential shortages of skilled personnel could act as a brake on the post Covid-19 recovery.
Internationally renowned tourism futurist Valentina Doorly from The Future Cube said the pandemic will reshape the entire global tourism industry.
“The industry needs to anticipate change, reimagine, and be equipped to seize new opportunities that will emerge,” she said.
She said the pandemic is akin to "a black swan" that will influence industries like tourism for decades to come.
"We are currently living through ‘a time of the Great Fright’ - the pandemic has erupted, there’s a race for vaccines and solutions, and travelling is not safe."
"The next horizon will be a phase of rehabilitation when vaccines will start to roll out and the initial danger will have passed but we will be 'recovering from a great trauma' and visitors will need extra care."
During this next stage in 2021, she said it will take very little to make people happy and they will focus on small budget holidays, city breaks and small private events.
The final stage could take up to 18-23 months when air travel is no longer seen as a threat and when the world is seen as an interesting place to explore again.
Countries which are seen a safe destinations with a high quality tourism product and which boast interesting connections - such as Joe Biden's Irish roots - will fare best in the recovery.
"Consumers will think long and hard about how their money is spent, they will continue to focus on local and they will look for more intimacy.”
IHI President Oonagh Cremins said it was vital the industry was supported in its recovery.
Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) chief executive Adrian Cummins said tourism will never be taken for granted again in Ireland.