The latest industry survey* from the Irish Hotels Federation shows early signs that hotels in certain parts of the country are beginning to see an uplift in bookings for July and August.
This follows the Government’s recent announcement that it will look at the reopening of hotels and guesthouses in June. With booking levels nationally averaging 23% for July and 21% for August - the key summer months – Michael Yates, Chair of the Sligo/Leitrim/ Roscommon branch of the Irish Hotels Federation, is encouraging people to plan their holidays and breaks early while there is plenty of choice and availability around.
Mr Yates says the positive developments around the vaccine roll-out coupled with the Taoiseach’s announcement around the reopening of hotels have allowed hotels in Sligo, Leitrim and across the country to start planning towards reopening.
“However, as the latest IHF survey shows, there is still a long way to go before hotel occupancy reaches even last summer’s levels. Recovery will be a challenge for the hotel sector this year, requiring continued Government support through to 2022, when the tourism industry should start to recover in earnest.”
“Staycations were a real positive last summer and we expect booking levels to continue to rise over the coming weeks. Not surprisingly, as indicated by our latest survey, we would expect to see stronger demand in coastal areas, popular tourism destinations and hotels offering packages and facilities for families. However, we would encourage people to explore all parts across the country, as they did last year. There is excellent value available. Guests should contact hotels directly to find out what special offers are available and shop around.”
While the extensive availability across the country may be good news for consumers, it highlights the ongoing challenges facing the hotel sector. “Tourism supported some 4,900 livelihoods in Sligo and Leitrim before Covid-19 restrictions, contributing €178 million to the local economy. Hotels are focussed on restoring employment levels as quickly as possible. While employment and business supports to date have been very welcome, it is essential that the Government now provides greater clarity and certainty now around supports into 2022 and beyond.
“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 of March next 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 Yates 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. “Wait and see is not a sustainable business strategy.” Mr Yates added.
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