Summer bookings for Irish hotels and guesthouses are at an historic low according to the latest survey from the Irish Hotels Federation . Currently booking levels of just 21% are
being reported for July, with 20% for August - traditionally the busiest months of the year. With the news at the weekend that the hospitality sector is unlikely to reopen before mid-summer, the IHF is calling for certainty around business and employee supports as a matter urgency.
IHF Chief Executive, Tim Fenn said: “We have never seen bookings levels for the key summer months so low at this time of year. The domestic market was a real positive for hotels and guesthouses last year and we expect home holidays to be very important again this year. However, in the meantime, hotels have to plan, and the lack of certainty over business supports is a huge challenge for hospitality businesses.
Mr. Fenn added: “Government supports to date have been very welcome and have made a significant difference for hotels and guesthouses. However, with our sector now facing an extended lockdown, these supports must be reviewed. If the all-important summer period is being eroded, additional supports are now required to safeguard businesses and the livelihoods they support until society reopens safely and the sector and wider tourism industry can recover.
“Specifically, we are seeking increases in payments under the Covid Restrictions Supports Scheme (CRSS), enhanced employment subsidies, extension of the local authority rates waiver until the end this year. We also ask the Government to intervene with the banks to ensure they have appropriate supports and engagement processes in place for hotels and their team members until Covid – 19 has been suppressed.”
Mr Fenn said hotels also require a clear commitment from the Government to retain the 9% tourism VAT rate to assist recovery and secure a viable and sustainable future for the industry. “Many hotels are now contracting for international business up to two years out in an exceptionally competitive market with one hand tied behind their back. As yet, they have no pricing certainty in relation to the retention of this critically important VAT measure, and this must be addressed urgently.”