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'Dramatic collapse' in bookings puts 100,000 jobs at risk, Irish Hotels Federation says

Room occupancy levels are down over 70% for the remainder of the year.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Dmitry Kalinovsky

THERE HAS BEEN a “dramatic collapse” in new hotel bookings over the past fortnight as the impact of additional Covid-19 restrictions are felt across the country, the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has said.

At this time of the year, the IHF said the hotel sector would normally expect 350,000 ‘new bed nights’ to be booked each week, however, this has plummeted with room occupancy levels down over 70% for the remainder of the year.

The IHF said that prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism supported 270,000 livelihoods, one in 10 of all Irish jobs. An estimated 100,000 of these jobs have been lost so far this year and a further 100,000 are “at immediate risk”.

The federation is calling for enhanced employment subsidies, a reduction in tourism VAT to 9%, an extended waiver of local authority rates and greater access to banking finance, in order to protect jobs.

IHF Chief Executive Tim Fenn said the situation has “deteriorated further in recent days, and we have reached a critical point with cancellations wiping out all new business generated over the week”.

Fenn said no net new business has been generated over the last seven days for the country as a whole – the first time this has happened since the sector reopened at the end of June.

“The collapse in new bookings is extremely worrying and adds to an already exceptionally challenging environment. It is a direct consequence of additional Government restrictions and points to a very difficult number of months ahead,” Fenn stated.

He said the situation needs to be recognised by the government in the upcoming Budget. He added that existing supports for the tourism industry are “totally inadequate given the current restrictions” and “urgent and unprecedented intervention by the government is essential”.

Fenn said public health “must always be the number one priority, but this goes hand in hand with ensuring a viable economy when this pandemic has passed”.

Occupancy rates around the country

The survey was carried out on Monday, 28 September, and results are based on the response from 305 properties accounting for a combined total of 32,475 guest rooms throughout the country.

Hotel room occupancy rates across the country were at 40% for September, and 22% for October and 11% for November based on business currently booked. This compared with rates of 89% last September, 81% last October and 82% last November.

Breakdown of occupancy results for October/November 2020:

  • National room occupancy: 22% Oct/11% Nov
  • Dublin City and County: 10% Oct/8% Nov
  • Border region: 31% Oct/16% Nov
  • Mid West: 21% Oct/11% Nov
  • Midlands/Mid East: 25% Oct / 9% Nov
  • South East: 38% Oct/17% Nov
  • South West: 29% Oct/11% Nov
  • West: 29% Oct/14% Nov

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Border region: Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan
Mid West: Clare, Limerick, Tipperary
Midlands/Mid East: Kildare, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wicklow
South East: Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford
South West: Cork, Kerry
West: Galway, Mayo, Roscommon

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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