A leading hotelier in Donegal is calling on the government to retain business and employment supports for the recovery of the hospitality sector.
Occupancy figures nationally are expected to reach just 32% for the year, compared to 73% for 2019.
Paul Diver, General Manager at the Sandhouse Hotel Rossnowlagh, is Chair of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) Donegal branch. He said: “As Ireland’s largest indigenous employer, tourism supported almost 270,000 livelihoods including 7,500 here in Donegal prior to the pandemic.
“Our industry has been hardest hit by the restrictions, and the ensuing economic and financial impact of Covid has been devastating. The Government supports so far have been critical, and a lifeline for many businesses, helping to restore employment and support the viability of businesses until we get back to a more stable footing. However, we need a firm commitment that they will be retained until the impact of the pandemic has passed. Tourism will recover, but it will take time.”
Specifically, hotel and guesthouse owners are seeking the extension of the EWSS employment supports at current levels, to help businesses retain and develop their teams over the coming months along with the extension of the local authority rates waiver until June 2022, when the summer season begins. “A failure to act decisively now would have major economic implications given the reliance of many parts of the country on tourism for prosperity and employment, including here in Donegal, says Mr Diver.
The IHF is also calling for the 9% tourism VAT rate to be retained until after 2025, to provide certainty and allow Irish tourism to compete internationally.
While tourism performed well during the summer months in some regions, hotels and guesthouses now face an uncertain nine months until the 2022 summer season. Bookings have fallen sharply in the absence of overseas visitors, along with meetings and events which would normally sustain the sector during the off-peak season. Expectations are that overseas tourism into Ireland will remain severely constrained next year and is unlikely to recover to pre-Covid levels until 2024/2025.
Mr Diver concluded: “Our industry has a proven track record as a major contributor to the economy. Tourism’s recovery is just beginning. The pro-tourism Government measures introduced have been vital and with their continued support we can fully recover the ground we lost during the pandemic.”