Hotels and Guesthouses around the country are calling for a commitment from the government on the continuation of business and employment supports in the upcoming budget.

Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, President of the Irish Hotels Federation, is 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.

“The Government’s pro-tourism 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. The tourism recovery has begun, but it will take time,” she said.

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.

Ms Fitzgerald Kane said: “As an island nation, international tourism is critically important, accounting for almost 70% of tourism revenue pre-Covid. It is a highly competitive industry, and we are seeing intense competition in the international market as we vie for overseas visitors. Most travel agents are already contracting for 2023, yet they have no certainty around tourism VAT and this is undermining advance bookings and ultimately tourism’s recovery.”

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. Booking levels have fallen sharply in the absence of overseas visitors. Meetings and events which would normally sustain the sector during the off-peak season are also below expectation.

Ms Fitzgerald Kane said: “Under the most optimistic scenario for the remainder of 2021, average occupancy is projected to reach 32% for the year as whole – a significant collapse in activity compared with 2019. 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. The recovery is beginning but it will take time.”

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