The overall aim of the research is the preparation of a short to medium term Access Mitigation Strategy to respond to the challenges posed for the business, travel, leisure and tourism sectors by the physical and psychological impacts on travel access to/from Northern Ireland during/post the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The research programme reflects the need to understand the implications of the COVID-19 crisis on accessibility to/from Northern Ireland given the region’s heavy reliance on air and sea access for trade, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and tourism. This includes the fall-out from COVID-19 (and additional factors including Flybe, Brexit) on the capacity of air and sea routes, how demand has and will be impacted in the future because of changing behaviours and what actions need to be taken to minimise these effects and keep Northern Ireland open for business.
The project objectives are as follows: To establish the current position and near to medium term prospects for air and sea connectivity to Northern Ireland (including Irish Sea ports and airports); review the contribution of air and sea links to the performance of the Northern Ireland Economy and Wider Society; assess the factors shaping this position and their impact on demand for external travel before, during and post the Coronavirus Pandemic; develop a range of future scenarios around passenger transport by air and sea to inform the development of a range of mitigation policy interventions to maximise the accessibility of the region; table recommendations for a mitigation policy to maximise accessibility of the region; and assess the potential for funding and financing a Short to Medium Term Access Mitigation Strategy for the region. The research findings and its recommendations are informed by robust empirical evidence bases and include proven public policy interventions to maximise the region’s access and openness to business and tourism related travel going forward.