Historically low bookings levels for summer months
- Latest industry survey shows average booking levels of just 20% across July and August
- Hoteliers say certainty around business and employee supports critical
Summer bookings for Irish hotels and guesthouses are at an historic low according to the latest survey from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF). 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 states: “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.”
Prior to the pandemic, tourism supported over 270,000 jobs, 70% of which were outside of Dublin. “In some cases, whole communities are built around tourism. Hotels and guesthouses not only provide local employment opportunities, they buy local services, source locally produced food and provide a vital infrastructure in support of local business and communities. A severely devastated hospitality sector would be a major loss to the economy and society here for many years to come. This can and must be avoided,” said Mr Fenn.
Commenting on the Government’s revised Living with Covid plan, which is due to be announced tomorrow, Mr Fenn said it will be important in providing greater confidence to help consumers in planning their breaks and holidays for the summer months. “We recognise the difficult balance the Government has to achieve. 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 15-19th February, and the results are based on the response of 286 properties with 28,200 guest rooms spread across the country.
Breakdown of occupancy results for July / August/ September 2021
- National room occupancy: 21% July/ 20% Aug / 19% Sept
- Dublin City and County: 12% July/ 14% Aug / 16% Sept
- Other Cities: 19% July/ 21% Aug / 15% Sept
- Border region: 21% July/ 20% Aug / 17% Sept
- Mid-West: 26% July/ 23% Aug / 23% Sept
- Midlands / Mid East: 22% July/ 20% Aug / 21% Sept
- South East: 34% July/ 27% Aug / 22% Sept
- South West: 29% July/ 29% Aug / 23% Sept
- West: 20% July/ 18% Aug / 15% Sept