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Dublin: -2°C Sunday 11 April 2021

'Nothing short of disastrous': Hoteliers say their futures are bleak as revenues plummet due to Covid

The average room occupancy stood at 42% for July.

Image: Shutterstock/Makistock

THE IRISH HOTELS Federation (IHF) said businesses are facing an “enormous challenge” as new research reveals a dramatic fall in bookings nationwide. 

The average room occupancy stood at 42% for July, compared with occupancy levels of over 90% for this time last year.

The IHF said this represents the largest year-on-year drop ever recorded by the Irish hotel sector for the peak summer season.

The outlook for the rest of the summer is bleak, it added, with bookings for August staying in line with July. Bookings for September show a further dramatic drop in occupancy levels to 24% nationally.

Unsurprisingly, the CSO announced earlier this week that the number of overseas visitors to Ireland has by dropped by 97% year on year.

Breakdown of occupancy results for July 2020:

National room occupancy: 42%
Dublin City and County: 17%
Other Cities: 41%
Rest of Country (excluding cities): 56%

The south-east and the west saw the highest room occupancy rates, standing at 63% and 57% respectively. 

The survey was carried out at the start of this week and results are based on the response from 305 properties. 

IHF President Elaina Fitzgerald Kane said that the stark figures highlight the requirement for additional sector-specific measures for tourism.

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She said: “Even in a best-case scenario, we are effectively looking at occupancy levels of less than 30% for the year as a whole. This is nothing short of disastrous for our sector with serious implications for the tourism industry and the wider economy.

“Unfortunately the stimulus package recently announced by the Government just doesn’t go far enough given the scale of the crisis we are facing. The measures fail to deliver the required supports around competitiveness and liquidity, which is very disappointing and could have long-term consequences for tourism and the almost 270,000 livelihoods it supports.”

Fitzgerald Kane said the Government’s failure to reduce the tourism VAT rate was a missed opportunity. She said Ireland is already a very high-cost economy by international standards, which adds to the “challenges of an indigenous export industry”.

“This is made worse by a tourism VAT that is higher than 30 European countries with which we compete. The UK, including Northern Ireland, slashed their VAT rate from 20% to 5%. Given how closely our economies are intertwined a similar cut here was vital,” she added.

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