Hotel Summer Bookings at Historic Low: Hoteliers Call for Urgent Government Action to Aid Survival

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  • Latest industry survey shows average booking levels of just 21% across July and August
  • No net new bookings generated over past three weeks as cancellations wipe out all new business
  • Hoteliers say certainty around business and employment supports critical

The latest industry survey from the Irish Hotels Federation reveals a collapse in new hotel bookings following the Government’s update on Covid restrictions on 23rd February. The sector is effectively at a standstill with no net new bookings as cancellations wipe out any new business. Hotels and guesthouses are now facing enormous uncertainty without much-needed clarity and additional supports from the Government.

The Irish Hotels Federation has urged the Government to provide a significant increase in sector specific supports for tourism businesses as a matter of urgency with hotels and guesthouses reporting booking levels of just 22 per cent for July and 20 per cent for August – which are usually the key summer months that act as a lifebuoy for many other months of the year.

Speaking following the latest meeting of the Government’s Hospitality and Tourism Forum, IHF Chief Executive Tim Fenn stated: “The domestic market was very important to the Irish hotel sector last year and we expect that booking levels will improve. However, in the meantime, businesses have to plan. The Government may not be able to provide assurances as to when society will reopen, but they can give much needed certainty and reassurance around business and employee supports. With hotels facing a prolonged period of closure and related cash burn, this piecemeal approach is hugely frustrating and detrimental for hotels and their teams who, along with the rest of the tourism and hospitality sector, have been disproportionately impacted by Covid restrictions.”

“Specifically, we are seeking increases in payments under the Covid Restrictions Supports Scheme (CRSS) with a doubling of payment amounts irrespective of the level of Covid restrictions as well as removal of the current €5,000 weekly cap. We estimate that 44% of hotel bedroom stock is excluded from CRSS entirely, and this must be resolved as a matter of urgency.”

“Enhanced employment subsidies are also necessary. 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 the pandemic has passed.  Hotels also require a clear commitment from the Government to retain the 9% tourism VAT rate. Many hotels are already contracting for international business up to two years out. Tourism is highly competitive, yet they have no pricing certainty in relation to the retention of this critically important VAT measure and this could hamper their recovery.”

“Hotels are focussed on restoring employment levels as quickly as possible and the best way to ensure that is to support the businesses. It is critical that we get certainty around supports for business recovery. We cannot afford any delay if businesses are to have a fighting chance of survival. Prior to the pandemic, tourism supported over 270,000 jobs, 70% of which were outside of Dublin. 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,” Mr Fenn added.

The IHF survey was carried out on 8-10th March, and the results are based on the response of 303 properties with 31,150 guest rooms spread across the country.

Breakdown of occupancy results for July / August/ September 2021  

  • National room occupancy:  22 % July/ 20% Aug / 18% Sept
  • Dublin City and County: 13 % July/ 12% Aug / 16% Sept
  • Other Cities: 16 % July/ 15% Aug / 11% Sept
  • Border region:  28% July/ 25% Aug / 18% Sept
  • Mid-West: 20 % July/ 15% Aug / 17% Sept
  • Midlands / Mid East: 17 % July/ 18% Aug / 17% Sept
  • South East: 39 % July/ 32% Aug / 24% Sept
  • South West: 30 % July/ 29% Aug / 21% Sept
  • West: 27 % July/ 22% Aug / 18% Sept
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