Urgent additional supports required for struggling hotels sector, says IHF
- Hoteliers call for retention of EWSS supports and Local Authority Rates Waiver
- Budget 2022 was not designed for the immediate challenges facing hospitality businesses
- Over €90m in hotel revenues lost due to event cancellations
- Hotels face very challenging Christmas period with room occupancy at 34% for December and averaging 14% for January and February
Hotels and guesthouses owners are calling on the Government to provide urgent additional supports for the sector in response to a dramatic collapse in event bookings in the lead up to Christmas. Hoteliers are reporting over €90m in lost revenues with many companies and organisations throughout the country cancelling events and social gatherings, according to the latest industry research by the Irish Hotels Federation*.
In normal times, December trading sustains the first few months of the following year for many hotels and guesthouses. However, as a result of the recent event cancellations, the sector and broader tourism are at a critical juncture requiring continued Government supports at current levels.
Hotel occupancy levels remain significantly down on expectations, with hoteliers reporting occupancies of just 35% for December and 14% across January and February. This poses an enormous challenge for hotels and guesthouses as they face into an uncertain new year and an exceptionally difficult trading environment up until June 2022. At the same time, hotels are now facing a cliff-edge scenario with the Government planning to cut vital EWSS employment supports from 1st December and discontinue the local authority rates waiver from 1st January 2022.
IHF Chief Executive Tim Fenn is calling for a firm commitment from Government to continue EWSS supports at their current levels at least up until April 2022 and for the current local authority rates waiver to be retained until June 2022.
He states: “Health and Safety remains our number one priority. As a direct result of Government public health advice, however, the trading environment for the hotels sector is now completely different to a few weeks ago. Hotels and guesthouses are taking an enormous financial hit, and this must be recognised upfront by Government in the form of urgent additional supports for our sector.”
“We have been repeatedly told that there will be no “cliff edge” yet that is not what we are seeing from the Government at present. The Government must recognise the impact recent changes to public health advice are having on our industry and reverse decisions to withdraw supports until the impact of Covid-19 measures has abated. Budget 2022 was not designed for the current challenges facing hospitality businesses. Additional targeted supports must be put in place immediately to provide much-needed certainty.”
“This is about real lives and livelihoods. Before this pandemic, over 270,000 livelihoods were supported by the tourism and hospitality industry, equating to 1 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.”
*Survey of IHF members carried out 22-23rd November 2021