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Hotels call for more support in face of prolonged closure

Published: Friday, February 26, 2021.

HF President says the survival of tourism is under threat unless Government steps up to the mark with additional supports

Hotel and guesthouse owners have acknowledged today’s announcements on the revised Living with Covid plan published by government and the progress markers for changing restrictions. Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, President of the Irish Hotels Federation said that the sector recognises the difficult balance facing government. “However, the Government is in denial in relation to the supports required by those sectors, including hotels and guesthouses, that have been devastated by the restrictions,” she added.

Ms Fitzgerald Kane stated: “It is time for the Government to step up to the mark for those sectors of the economy that are being asked to stay closed. Government supports to date have been very welcome and have made a difference for hotels and guesthouses. However, these supports are wholly inadequate in the face of an extended lockdown and the prospect that the all-important summer period will be eroded. Additional supports are required urgently to help tourism and hospitality businesses survive until society reopens and the sector can restore the livelihoods of their teams. Over 160,000 people have been laid off temporarily and many feel they are being left behind and, in fact, that we are no longer ‘in this together’”. 

“We have been repeatedly told that there will be no “cliff edge” yet a piecemeal approach is being taken that does not recognise the challenges being faced including those involved in reopening businesses. We need a broader vision with clarity and certainty around supports. Hotels need to plan if they are to survive and right now planning is impossible for businesses and, also for our teams who have already been deeply affected.

“This is about real lives and livelihoods. Before this pandemic, over 270,000 livelihoods were supported by the tourism and hospitality industry which was one in 10 of all Irish jobs with 70% of these jobs located outside of Dublin.  These jobs matter – not only to the people working within the industry but to the wider economy, especially the many parts of regional Ireland where tourism is the only show in town.

“We appreciate the many challenges facing Government in trying to reopen society safely. However, the tourism and hospitality industry has been disproportionately impacted. Our members are reporting historically low bookings for the key summer months of July and August¹ as the uncertainty over the timeframe for easing restrictions impacts on consumer confidence.

“Tourism can recover. It is proven to be an engine for economic recovery following the financial crisis when it was the number one sector in terms of job creation. It can be again with the right Government supports. Hotels and guesthouses are a key component of its infrastructure. A failure to support the industry now will have ramifications for the future of Ireland’s tourism offering and for the economy that could take decades to remedy,” Ms Fitzgerald Kane added.

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