Twelve tour guides affected by ‘staff restructuring’ ahead of The Gobbins reopening

Casual workers will be brought in to lead visitors along The Gobbins cliff path in Islandmagee when the tourist attraction re-opens, councillors have been told.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 5:35 pm

A dozen tour guides have been affected by the decision to remove them from their posts at the Mid and East Antrim tourist attraction and replace them with temporary staff.

Seven have been redeployed to other council duties and five took redundancy, three have remained on the guide list.

Casual guides will now be brought in when needed, matching demand when the attraction reopens following the easing of lockdown restrictions due to the Covid pandemic.

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The Gobbins

The council has announced that the £7.5m cliff path will reopen to visitors on Monday, April 26.

Councillors were told at a meeting behind closed doors last month that recruitment for casual guides “was complete” and training was due to commence on March 22.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has said previously that “due to the current financial pressures resulting from Covid-19, it is reviewing its operational resources at The Gobbins” and had hoped to “mitigate the impact on staff as far as possible”.

“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.”

Meanwhile, a new virtual reality booth has been installed at the visitors’ centre at Middle Road, Islandmagee in association with Tourism NI “for those not able to walk the cliff path”.

Sixty-eight Ulster-Scots signs are being installed at the upper path.

The signage panels funded by the Ulster-Scots Agency to the tune of £30,000 were due to have been installed at the upper path by the end of March with 30 for the wooden fencing along the path and 38 on the handrails along the path. Click here

There were 34,000 visitors to The Gobbins in 2019.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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