Hotel bookings have collapsed in the wake of additional Government restrictions to curb the coronavirus with up to 88 per cent of hotel rooms expected to lie empty in November.
A survey from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) found that since the announcement of revised Government plans for restrictions on September 15th, the weekly rate of new bookings for hotels has plummeted by 67 per cent.
The IHF said hotel room occupancy rates across the country are at 40 per cent for September, 23 per cent for October and just 12 per cent for November based on business currently booked.
This compared with rates of 89 per cent last September, 81 per cent last October and 82 per cent last November.
The figure are based on the response from 298 properties accounting for a combined stock of 32,100 guestrooms across the country.
Prior to Covid-19, tourism supported 270,000 livelihoods, one in ten of all Irish jobs, the IHF said.
An estimated 100,000 jobs of these have been lost so far this year and a further 100,000 are at immediate risk without substantial sector specific supports being put in place, it said.
IHF president Elaina Fitzgerald Kane said that the stark figures highlight the requirement for additional sectoral specific measures for tourism. “This situation is nothing short of disastrous for our sector with serious implications for the tourism industry and wider economy.”
“We are calling on the Government to implement sector specific measures as a matter of urgency. These should include enhanced employment subsidies, a reduction in tourism VAT, extended waiver of local authority rates and greater access to banking finance,” she said.
She said supporting the sector must form a central plank of next month’s Budget.
The IHF wants the Government to cut the 13.5 per cent Vat rate for the hospitality and tourism industries to 9 per cent. It also called wages support under the Government’s Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) to be increased and for further liquidity measures for struggling businesses.
It is also seeking the waiver period for local authority rates to be extended for tourism businesses to coincide with business interruption due to Covid-19 and for a minimum of 12 months and for a beefed up testing and tracing regime to restore confidence in the sector.
“It is now ‘make or break’ time. Urgent and unprecedented intervention from the Government is required to support tourism businesses and safeguard thousands of jobs throughout the sector,” Ms Fitzgerald Kane said.
“ This must form a central plank of the Budget due to be announced next month,” she added.