Call for immediate intervention in hotels sector

Irish Hotels Federation Shannon branch chairman Dermot Kelly.

A SIGNIFICANT drop in occupancy levels in hotels throughout the Mid West highlights the need for immediate interventions to support tourism businesses across the region.

That’s according to Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) Shannon branch chairman Dermot Kelly who said that the latest industry survey showed occupancy levels of 23 and 26 per cent during July and August compared to an average of 90 per cent for the same period last year.

“When we look across the water to the UK, we see the decisive action being taken by the Government in their Plan for Jobs. The slashing of their VAT rate from 20 to 5 per cent is a clear sign of their commitment to support the recovery of their tourism and hospitality industry. Given how closely our economies are intertwined a similar cut here is necessary. The UK is not only Ireland’s biggest market for overseas tourists, it is also our biggest competitor,” said Mr Kelly.

He also called for urgent clarity on the guidelines for gatherings in light of the decision by the Northern Ireland Executive to allow the capacity for indoor gatherings including weddings to be determined by the size of the venue from July 10.

“Capacity here is limited to 100 people regardless of the size of the venue. We are calling on the Government to allow hotels that can safely host larger weddings to do so based on the size and scale of the venues, rather than imposing a general limit on how many people can gather at any venue, regardless of safe capacity,” he added.

Almost 90 per cent of hotels in Limerick are expected to be open again by the middle of the month and this would be a critical time for the tourism industry, and the livelihoods it supports.

“Here in Limerick, tourism supported 11,500 jobs and generated €327million in local revenues before the Covid-19 lockdown,” Mr Kelly explained.

“ We are committed to working closely with the Government to safeguard tourism so it can play a key  role again and be a significant lever in the country’s economic recovery. However, this requires specific sectoral supports now in relation to liquidity and competitiveness,” Mr Kelly concluded.

by Tom McCullough

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