Hotel and guesthouses have seen a 31% increase in bookings for July following the Government announcement of the reopening of the sector from 2nd June.

The latest industry survey from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) shows booking levels nationally now average 31% for July and 27% for August. This compares to levels of 23% and 21% respectively just ahead of the announcement.

The IHF survey was carried out on 11th – 13th May and the results are based on the response of 306 properties with 28,900 guest rooms spread across the country.

Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, President, IHF, said: “The domestic market was a real positive last year and we expect home holidays to be very important for the sector again this year. Not surprisingly, as indicated by our latest survey, we would expect to see stronger demand in popular tourism destinations and hotels offering packages and facilities for families.”

While hotels and guesthouses are not banking on significant overseas visitors this year, Ms Fitzgerald Kane is calling on the Government to implement the EU COVID 19 Travel Certificate, expected to be approved by the EU next month, as quickly as possible.

“This would send a very clear signal that Ireland is reopening for tourism when it is safe to travel and will facilitate the necessary lead times for planning holidays and business travel,” she said.

She also welcomed the agreement reached by EU member states to allow fully vaccinated visitors from outside the EU to enter the bloc this summer for holidays. She called on the Government to implement the agreement at the earliest opportunity, which would allow vaccinated travellers from other key markets such as the USA, who typically travel in the autumn. “This would be very important in extending the season for many Irish tourism businesses, while also supporting the recovery in Dublin, where occupancy levels lag the rest of the country.”

Ms Fitzgerald Kane also called for a firm commitment from government on business and employment supports for the sector into 2022. “Specifically, we are seeking for the EWSS to remain in place until the end of March 2022, an extension of the Local Authority Rates waiver until the end of March 2022 similar to what has been put in place in Scotland. We also ask that the Covid Restrictions Supports Scheme (CRSS), targeting businesses with a 75% drop in revenue, be doubled irrespective of the level of COVID restrictions and the €5,000 weekly cap to be removed, along with the doubling of reopening grants to reflect the scale of reopening costs after months of prolonged closure.

Ms Fitzgerald Kane said hotels also require a clear commitment from the Government to retain the tourism VAT rate. “The 9% VAT is a critical measure for international competitiveness and must be in place until 2025 to assist recovery and secure a viable and sustainable future for the industry,” she added.

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