Hoteliers Welcome Expansion of Gatherings
Call for review of business and employment supports withdrawal
Hoteliers have welcomed the decision announced today by the Government to increase the size of indoor gatherings from 22nd October. Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, President of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said: “We recognise the difficult balance the Government has to achieve in reopening the economy and are fully committed to continuing to play our part in ensuring public health is to the fore of everything we do. However, it is disappointing that some restrictions have to remain, and Government must immediately re-examine the cliff-edge that has been created in Budget 2022 with the withdrawal of business and employment supports in the coming months.”
The IHF President stated: “Hoteliers fully support Government efforts to supress the virus. While disappointing that there is a need for a continuation of current requirements for Covid certs, we support this public health measure. Nonetheless the retention of restrictions means that the economic circumstances on which the decision to withdraw supports was based no longer exist. Instead, we are facing the kind of cliff-edge in December that the Government assured us we would avoid.”
Ms Fitzgerald Kane expressed serious concerns about the withdrawal of the EWSS employment support scheme. This would impact on hospitality businesses that may experience a seasonal Christmas uplift, thereby excluding them from further support during the months of January to April when business levels fall off dramatically. She urged the Government to provide a sector specific exemption for hospitality businesses.
Additionally, she called on the Government to reconsider the failure in the recent budget to extend the rates waiver beyond December 2021. Ms Fitzgerald Kane states: “Hoteliers cannot be expected to pay rates based on historical business levels that no longer exist and will take years to restore.
Ms. Fitzgerald Kane also called on the Government to commit to extending the 9% VAT rate for tourism and hospitality after August 2022 as a key competitive measure to support recovery. The current 9% rate is the correct rate for our sector and is in line with our European counterparts whereas a return to the 13.5% rate means Ireland will have the second highest VAT rate in Europe at a time when we are facing unprecedented inflationary pressures which will inhibit our competitiveness and recovery.
Tourism will recover, but it is not a tap that can be turned off and on. The most optimistic forecast is for average occupancy for 2021 to reach 32% and expectations are that overseas tourism into Ireland will remain severely constrained next year and unlikely to recover to pre-Covid levels until 2024/2025.
“Government supports have been important to restoring employment and will continue to be going forward, helping to support the viability of individual businesses and the wider sector until business levels recover. From a government policy and industry perspective, the over-riding priority must be to ensure Irish tourism recovers lost ground as quickly as possible. This is essential if the 270,000 livelihoods supported by tourism, 1 in 10 of all Irish jobs with 70% of those jobs outside of Dublin pre-Covid are to be secured,” she concluded.