The UK wide industry-standard, We’re Good to Go, which has supported businesses throughout the pandemic has been phased out following a successful campaign.
The standard which was introduced in July 2020 when organisations were struggling to adjust to new regulations allowed businesses to demonstrate the Covid-19 protocols they had put in place to keep both staff and visitors safe while the hospitality sector moved to reopening.
“It has been tough, we had to adjust and review our operating procedures and various range of risk assessments,” said Pim Dalm, the Managing Director of Clandeboye Lodge Hotel in Bangor County Down.
With the help of the ‘We’re Good To Go’ accreditation, Clandeboye Lodge Hotel was able to maintain a safe environment for its staff.
“We felt it was very important to make sure that our staff felt confident that as business owners we had taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the environment in which they were either interacting with guests or interacting amongst each other was as safe as could possibly be.”
Looking back on the unpredictability the tourism sector was facing at the time, Dermot Friel, owner of Friel’s Bar and Restaurant explained the importance of safety for organised trips.
“Tour operators wanted to know if their guests and visitors were going to be looked after in a safe environment. That was one of their first questions, were we ‘Good To Go’ accredited?” he recalled.
Fortunately, the success of the initiative allowed many local businesses to safely reopen their premises and welcome visitors and guests after a long period of uncertainty.
For Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, the We’re Good To Go accreditation meant that Northern Ireland’s primary royal residence could start planning for the future.
“Being declared Good To Go was peace of mind that you were safe at work and that you can provide a safe experience for your visitors.
“The We’re Good To Go campaign was an incredibly important part of our discussions with international vendors about our 2022 calendar and for trying to build back up to our pre covid business levels,” said Christine Grant, Palace Host Team Leader of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens.
Examining the consumer confidence, propensity to travel and consumer concerns at the time, Tourism NI’s Consumer Sentiment Analysis gave exceptional insight into the success of the We’re Good To Go initiative.
Only a few months after launching the initiative, by March 2021, almost a quarter of NI consumers (23%) were aware of the ‘We’re Good to Go Mark’. For the vast majority (92%) who were aware of it, this mark gave them confidence that a business was safe to visit. The same research confirmed that when restrictions eased, two-thirds of NI consumers would be more inclined to visit a business that displayed the mark over one that didn’t.
Tourism NI’s CEO John McGrillen said: “The ‘We’re Good to Go’ scheme was vital for businesses as it reassured visitors that they had put the necessary arrangements in place to deal with Covid safely. That consumer confidence was a critical part of driving consumer demand.
“I am exceptionally proud of the industry for their collective effort and investment to ensure guests felt safe when visiting their experiences and attractions. This is testament to the resilience and strength of character of the wonderful people we have working within the sector across Northern Ireland.
“This tenacity and giant spirit throughout the tourism sector contributes to the positive outlook as we move towards economic recovery following the pandemic.”
Throughout the campaign, all businesses operating within the visitor economy including accommodation providers, visitor attractions and more were encouraged to apply for the accreditation. In Northern Ireland, a total of 2,148 businesses took part and displayed the green logo on their premises and online.
By the end of summer 2021, NI holidaymakers felt more confident to book further in advance than ROI visitors. This could partly be attributed to the success of the We’re Good To Go standards of which 50% of consumers were aware.
Since Covid restrictions in Northern Ireland were officially lifted in February 2022 and consumer nervousness around travelling lessened, VisitEngland, VisitScotland, Visit Wales and Tourism Northern Ireland have agreed that the initiative has achieved what it set out to and drew the scheme to a close.
With nationwide restrictions behind us, Tourism NI acknowledges the support of the industry for taking the proactive step in helping visitors feel safe when travelling within, or to Northern Ireland.
The organisation is looking forward to welcoming both domestic and international visitors and guests in the coming season and seeing the tourism and hospitality industry restored to pre-pandemic levels.
Whilst the ‘We’re Good To Go’ scheme has closed we would like to encourage businesses to stay connected with Tourism NI for other supporting activities.
For more information on how Tourism NI can support your business visit: www.tourismni.com