IRELAND’s hotels and guesthouses saw revenues slump €2.6bn, or 60pc, last year, according to the Irish Hotels Federation.
t has called for the Government to introduce an emergency tourism budget to “ensure the viability of tourism businesses and the hundreds of thousands of livelihoods” in the sector.
“We have experienced nothing short of a catastrophic financial shock, with risks of a prolonged and devastating impact on our industry and the ability of tourism businesses to survive and recover,” said Irish Hotels Federation chief executive Tim Fenn.
“Government supports so far have been piecemeal and fallen far short of what is required given the extended restrictions and economic damage facing our sector,” he claimed.
He said the Government needed a “more coherent, sector-specific programme of supports and measures” to secure the long-term financial sustainability of hotels and guesthouses.
The federation wants the emergency tourism budget to include “substantial increases” in payments to tourism businesses under the Covid Restrictions Supports Scheme (CRSS), enhanced employment subsidies, an extension of the local rates waiver until the end of the year, and an additional six-month moratorium on bank term loans to support cashflows.
“We are also calling for a clear commitment from the Government to retain the 9pc tourism Vat rate to assist recovery and secure a viable and sustainable future for our industry,” said Mr Fenn.
“Tourism businesses such as hotels are now contracting for international business up to two years out in an exceptionally competitive market with one hand tied behind their back,” he added. “As yet, they have no pricing certainty in relation retention of this critically important Vat measure and this must urgently be addressed.”
The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) wants the 9pc Vat rate maintained until at least 2025. It wants the CRSS to target businesses with a 75pc drop in revenue and a removal of the current €5,000-a-week cap for the scheme.
The IHF said that before the pandemic, the tourism sector supported 270,000 jobs, or about one in 10 of all jobs in the economy.
It reckons that 160,000 tourism jobs have been lost since last March.
“It is critical that we get certainty around supports for business recovery,” said Mr Fenn.
“We cannot afford any delay if businesses are to have a fighting chance of getting back on their feet this year,” he added. “A severely devastated hotels sector would be a major loss to Ireland’s economy and society for many years to come. This can and must be avoided.”
In its year-end review last month, Ireland’s biggest hotel group, Dalata, noted that its occupancy in the third quarter of 2020 was just 26pc in Dublin, 60pc in regional Ireland, and 36pc in the UK.