Dermot Kelly is the chairman of the Irish Hotels Federation's Shannon branch
HOTELIERS across Limerick are seeking a detailed roadmap for when they can re-open following the latest Covid-19 lockdown.
Amid continued uncertainty, hotel bookings nationally are averaging just 22% occupancy for July and August, with innkeepers also seeking commitment on business and employment supports into 2022
The Irish Hotel Federation (IHF) Shannon branch chair Dermot Kelly, who runs the South Court Hotel, said: “With June just over a month away, hotel bookings nationally are at an historic low. It is critical that the government gives clarity to consumers and businesses as a matter of urgency.”
He said information is being sought from government around a detailed roadmap to re-open the hotels sector, based on clear progress markers for restrictions to be eased in line with public health improvements.
“While we recognise the challenges around public health and suppressing Covid that it is facing, the ongoing lack of detail is jeopardising the viability of hotels and guesthouses as they grapple with the financial and operational commitments required to be ready to reopen after months of prolonged closure,” he said.
Mr Kelly acknowledged the summer months can represent a “lifebuoy” for many hoteliers for the year, with winter traditionally quieter.
But with booking levels so low for summer, he warned there will be “serious implications” for the recovery of the sector locally – and it could take “years to remedy”.
Now, the The IHF is calling for government to commit to a number of measures, including the allowing of inter-county travel, hotels to be open to all patrons, regardless of whether they are staying.
They also call for capacity to be linked to function room size for events, and outdoor capacity linked to space available.
Crucially, the body wants to see the EU digital green certificate to be adopted and plans to be put in place for other vaccinated international travellers.
“We also require a commitment on business and employment support. While the supports to date have been very welcome, it is essential that the Government provides greater clarity and certainty now around supports into 2022 and beyond. Wait and see is not the approach for sustainable business planning and job recovery,” said Mr Kelly.
“Public health remains our number one priority as we reopen society and the economy. The hotels 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, the regional contribution is vital to many communities. Here in Limerick tourism pre-Covid supported 11,500 jobs and contributed €327 million to the local economy.