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Summer bookings at 'historic low', hotels say

The hotels industry is calling for more supports from the government while they remain shut.

Image: Shutterstock/Dmitry Kalinovsky

BOOKINGS FOR STAYS in hotels and guesthouses are at a “historic low” according to a survey from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF). 

It said that current booking levels being reported are just 21% for July and 20% for August. These are usually the busiest months of the year. 

Currently, under Level 5 restrictions, hotels and accommodation can only open for essential non-social and non-tourist purposes.

This is not expected to change for some time, with the government due to announce its new Living with Covid plan later today. 

At the weekend, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that hospitality may not re-open until mid-summer. It’s not yet clear when hotels can re-open.

In this context, the IHF has called for certainty around business and employee supports as a “matter of urgency”. 

Its chief executive Tim Fenn said: “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.”

Fenn called for increased payments under the Covid Restrictions Supports Scheme (CRSS), enhanced employment subsidies and extension of the local authority rates waver until the end of the year. 

He also said that a clear commitment from government was required on the retention of the 9% tourism VAT rate to assist the recovery of the industry.

“We recognise the difficult balance the government has to achieve,” he said.

“The roll-out of the vaccinations in recent weeks has provided a chink of light but the prospect of being able to enjoy a much-needed holiday this summer would be a timely boost to morale too.”

The IHF survey was carried out on 15-19 February, and the results are based on the response of 286 properties with 28,200 guest rooms across the country.

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Sean Murray

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