• Cyril McAree

Hoteliers Say Roadmap Depicts Grim Outlook For Sector

Hoteliers have expressed their disappointment with the Government’s ‘Living with Covid-19’ five-level plan unveiled today, saying it depicts a grim outlook for the tourism and hospitality industry. Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) President Elaina Fitzgerald said it highlighted the urgent requirement for additional sector specific supports for tourism businesses which are being severely impacted by the restrictions. With 100,000 tourism jobs already lost and a further 100,000 at risk, urgent Government intervention is now required.

Ms Fitzgerald Kane said: “We support the Government’s aim of reopening the country safely. However, we are disappointed that the roadmap does not take into consideration the controlled environment that hotels offer and our proven track record in hosting guests safely. This is not reflected in the restrictions on numbers that can attend social gatherings in hotels. In eleven weeks since opening, there have been no clusters reported in hotels.

“Public health must always be the number one priority, but this goes hand in hand with ensuring a viable economy when this pandemic has passed. Under the new framework, significant restrictions remain, even at level two, and these measures are negatively impacting some sectors, including tourism, disproportionately. This must be recognised by the Government with sector specific measures around employment supports, local authority rates waivers, reduced tourism VAT and grants to help businesses survive until the industry can start up again.

Ms Fitzgerald Kane welcomed the Government’s announcement that it intends to follow the EU model for international travel. However, she said that greater clarity was necessary around what this will mean in practice and when it will be implemented. “As an island nation, international travel is critical to the survival of Irish tourism. We welcome any moves that will help to open up travel in a safe way aligned with public health policy.”

“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on tourism employment in Ireland and people’s livelihoods is stark. At the beginning of the year tourism supported 270,000 direct and indirect jobs − 1 in 10 of all Irish jobs. An estimated 100,000 jobs of these have been lost so far this year and a further 100,000 are now at imminent risk in the coming weeks due to booking levels which have plummeted with the end the peak summer season.”

“Time and again, tourism has proven itself as a hugely successful engine for economic growth. In the aftermath of the last recession, tourism created 90,000 new jobs. Last year alone it generated over €9 billion in revenue.  A severely devastated Irish tourism sector would be a major loss to Ireland’s economy and society for many years to come. This can and must be avoided.”

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