The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has welcomed the Taoiseach’s announcement that hotels and guesthouses can reopen on 2nd June
Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, IHF President said the news was a much-needed confidence builder for guests and businesses alike: “Guests can now book a well-deserved break or holiday, knowing they will get to enjoy it, while the hotel and guesthouse community can plan properly for a sustainable reopening for their businesses and employees.”
With the significant progress of the vaccination rollout across the country, the IHF is calling on the Government to adopt the proposed EU COVID 19 Travel Certificate as well as developing plans to facilitate other vaccinated international travellers – particularly from North America.
“The clarity given by the Government today is critical and should give a much-needed confidence boost to consumers who are planning a break or a staycation over the coming months. The domestic market was a real positive last year and will be very important for the hotel sector again this summer. While booking levels have been low so far, we expect that will change now and I would encourage anyone planning a break to book early. There is excellent value and availability right across the country at present. I would also urge people to make direct contact with hotels, so they can be sure of getting the most suitable and best available packages for them.“
While acknowledging that the main focus of the tourism industry will be on the domestic market this year, the Irish Hotels Federation is calling on the Government to implement the EU COVID 19 Travel Certificate at the same time as other European countries.
“This would send a very clear signal that Ireland is reopening for tourism when it is safe to travel. As an island nation international tourism is critically important. It’s also highly competitive, and we are already seeing other markets giving commitments around reopening to allow for booking lead times,” said Ms Fitzgerald Kane.
The IHF President added: “Provision must also be made for vaccinated travellers from other primary markets such as the USA, who typically travel in the autumn, and would be very important in extending the season for many Irish tourism businesses. As vaccinated travellers with a huge desire to visit Ireland, they are struggling to understand why there is currently no provision for them. This must be addressed as soon as possible in recognition of their booking lead times and with potential travel corridors being put in place.”
Ms Fitzgerald Kane expressed the IHF’s disappointment that dining will be limited initially to residents only. “We appreciate the many challenges facing the Government in trying to reopen society. With continued the roll-out of the vaccination programme, we ask that progress markers are put in place and that this might be reviewed. Hotels provide very safe, highly controlled, spacious environments with extensive measures and training in place to minimise the risk from COVID 19,” she said.
The IHF President also called for a firm commitment from government on business and employment supports. “The summer months are always important for the tourism industry, and for many they are a life-buoy for the remainder of the year. However, our industry has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and with some level of restrictions likely for some time to come, tourism recovery is not going to begin in earnest until 2022. The supports to date have been very welcome but it is essential that the Government provides greater clarity and certainty now around supports¹ into 2022 and beyond. Wait and see is not the approach for sustainable business planning and job recovery,” said Ms Fitzgerald Kane.
“Public health remains our number one priority as society and the economy reopens. The hotel sector has a vital role to play as part of this process in ensuring Irish tourism and hospitality returns to a more stable footing in the months ahead – helping to sustain thousands of businesses and almost 270,000 livelihoods throughout the country. These jobs represent 11% of total employment nationally and, with 70% located outside of Dublin, tourism and hospitality makes a vital contribution to communities in every county and town throughout the country. The industry’s recovery must be to the fore of Government economic policy as we seek to restore employment levels as quickly as possible,” she said.