Thursday, April 08, 2021

James Cox

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 averaging 23 per cent for July and 21 per cent for August — the key summer months — IHF chief executive, Tim Fenn is encouraging people to plan their holidays and breaks early while there is plenty of choice and availability around.

Mr Fenn says the positive developments around the vaccine rollout coupled with the Taoiseach’s announcement around the reopening of hotels have allowed hotels to start planning towards reopening.

“However, as our latest 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

“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.

“We are seeing an uplift in traditional holiday destinations such as Cork, Kerry and Wexford. 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.

“More than 65,000 people across Ireland were employed in the hotel and guesthouse sector before Covid-19 restrictions. 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.”

VAT rate

Mr Fenn said hotels also require a clear commitment from the Government to retain the nine per cent 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 Fenn added.

The IHF survey was carried out on April 6th-8th and the results are based on the response of 330 properties with 32,850 guest rooms spread across the country.

Breakdown of occupancy results for July/August/ September 2021:

  • National room occupancy: 23 per cent July/ 21 per cent August/ 18 per cent September.
  • Dublin City and County: 11 per cent July/ 12 per cent August/ 15 per cent September.
  • Other Cities: 18 per cent July/ 17 per cent August/ 11 per cent September.
  • Border region: 30 per cent July/ 28 per cent August/20 per cent September.
  • Mid-West: 21 per cent July/ 18 per cent August/16 per cent September.
  • Midlands/Mid East: 21 per cent July/ 20 per cent August/21 per cent September.
  • South East: 38 per cent July/ 33 per cent August/ 26 per cent September.
  • South West: 35 per cent July 3/three per cent August/ 23 per cent September.
  • West: 29 per cent July/ two per cent August/ 16 per cent September.

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