Tour guides at The Gobbins set to be redeployed to other council duties

The Gobbins, Islandmagee
Michelle Weir

Staff at one of East Antrim’s main visitor attractions look set to be redeployed to other duties by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council due to uncertainty over tourism recovery.

It is understood that up to 10 tour guides at The Gobbins cliff path in Islandmagee could be affected.

Alan Law, assistant secretary of the trade union Nipsa, said: “We did hope we would be able to retain some permanent staff but it appears that they do not think it is something that would be sustainable.”

He went on to say casual workers are likely to be brought in when needed, “matching demand with staff”.

“What we are trying to do with the council is to ensure the staff affected are redeployed.”

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council says that “due to the current financial pressures resulting from Covid-19, council is reviewing its operational resources at The Gobbins.

The local authority has entered into a 12-week consultation with staff and has indicated that it is endeavouring to “mitigate the impact on staff as far as possible”.

The council has stated: “The recovery of the tourism sector remains extremely uncertain, and as a result, The Gobbins will be restructuring its staffing complement to provide flexibility across the service area based on visitor demand in the short term.

“Council will be continually reviewing the recovery of the tourism market and will be adapting the service over the next three years to ensure the facility remains viable.”

A ‘Rediscover MEA’ campaign has resulted in 1,653 bookings and revenue of £66,000, lockdown, according to a report presented to Mid and East Antrim’s Borough Growth Committee last week.

There were 34,000 visitors to The Gobbins last year.

A spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council also said: “Covid-19 has presented huge challenges for our tourism and hospitality industry across Northern Ireland.

“Our council continues to ensure minimal disruption to vital frontline services, while providing full support to our community and businesses at this time.”

The Gobbins closed again on November 26 for two weeks due to the latest Covid-19 restrictions announced by the NI Executive.





Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access