The latest industry survey conducted by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has revealed the enormous challenges facing hotels and guesthouses – with demand plummeting year on year as a result of the current crisis.

The survey was carried out on the week commencing 27th July and results are based on the response from 305 properties. These account for a combined stock of 29,500 guestrooms spread throughout the entire country, making it the largest and most representative survey of its kind to date.

Nationally, average room occupancy stood at 42% for July, compared with occupancy levels of over 90% for July last year. This is the largest year-on-year drop ever recorded by the Irish hotels sector for the peak summer season.

Bookings for August have also plummeted to levels broadly in line with those in July.  Bookings for September show a further dramatic drop in occupancy levels to 24% nationally. This points to a very worrying outlook for the rest of the year.  Meanwhile the CSO announced earlier this week that the number of overseas visitors to Ireland has by dropped by 97% year on year.

In Dublin city and county, the occupancy rate for July is as low as 17%.  Other cities are averaging 41%, while the rest of the cojntry outside the cities is at 56%.

Commenting on the results, IHF President Elaina Fitzgerald Kane said that the stark figures highlight the requirement for additional sectoral specific measures for tourism. She said: “Even in a best case scenario we are effectively looking at occupancy levels of less than 30% for the year as a whole. This is nothing short of disastrous for our sector with serious implications for the tourism industry and wider economy.”

Commenting on Ireland’s VAT rate, she said: “The Government’s failure to reduce tourism VAT was a missed opportunity.  Ireland is already a very high-cost economy by international standards, which adds to the challenges of an indigenous export industry. This is made worse by a tourism VAT that is higher than 30 European countries with which we compete. The UK, including Northern Ireland, slashed their VAT rate from 20% to 5%.  Given how closely our economies are intertwined a similar cut here was vital.”

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