Hotels and guesthouses in Laois and across the country have had another exceptionally difficult year due to Covid.
The average room occupancy rate for 2021 is 25% for the Midlands / Mid East region, including Laois since the start of the year, according to the latest research from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) . With the end of summer, the sector enters an uncertain nine-month period as booking levels drop sharply in the absence of foreign visitors, meetings and events that would normally support the sector during the off-season.
Dara Cruise, president of the Midlands branch of the IHF, urges the government to make a firm commitment to continue supporting business and employment until the recovery in international tourism begins in earnest in the summer of 2022. âGovernment support has been a vital lifeline for tourism businesses, including hotels and bed and breakfasts in Laois – many of these businesses would not have survived without the emergency measures put in place throughout. this crisis. We now have a long road to recovery ahead of us, and this will require additional targeted support for tourism and hospitality and the nearly 270,000 livelihoods supported by tourism before Covid – one in ten jobs in Ireland, including 4,400 in Laois.
Government measures sought by the IHF include extending current EWSS employment supports until June 2022 to help companies retain and grow their teams over the coming months; maintaining the 9% VAT rate on tourism until after 2025 to allow Irish tourism to be internationally competitive; and the extension of the exemption from commercial tariffs until June 2022, the date of the start of the summer season. Substantial additional funding is also needed for international marketing and restoring air connectivity with overseas markets to 2019 levels.
Mr Cruise notes that while the domestic tourism market has performed well over the summer months with an average room occupancy rate in the Midlands / Mid East region of 66%, activity has been exceptionally poor since then. the start of the year with average occupancy rates of 25% for the first eight months due to the sector being closed until June. The industry is still subject to a delay in fully lifting restrictions on hospitality and indoor events until October 22, as well as significant uncertainty regarding international travel, including travel advice from the US government. against travel to Ireland which has an impact on forward bookings.
In the most optimistic scenario for the remainder of 2021, the average occupancy rate nationwide is expected to reach 32% for the full year – a significant slump in activity from 2019, when the Room occupancy rate was 73% and represents only a modest increase over the all-time low of 30% reached in 2020.
âThe economic and financial impact of Covid has been devastating for our sector and the tourism industry as a whole, directly affecting the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people. Hotels and guesthouses nationwide will have seen their combined revenues fall by 5.3 billion euros in 2020 and 2021 as a direct result of this crisis, with overall revenues falling by 68% in 2020 and by 55% this year. In real terms, that’s over 19 million lost room nights, wiped out billions in food and beverage sales, and countless missed opportunities for hotels addicted to entertainment, business meetings and events – as well as the huge impact on the thousands of suppliers in our sector. “
âIt is essential that the government provide continued support to our sector so that businesses have a chance to get back on their feet over the next few years. As Ireland’s largest indigenous employer, tourism and hospitality have been hit hardest by Covid restrictions.
âThe thousands of incomes supported by tourism businesses in Laois are important – not only for people working in the industry, but also for the economy at large, especially the many areas where tourism is the only spectacle of the city. Failure to support the tourism and hospitality industry now will have ramifications for the future of Ireland’s tourism supply and for the economy.
The search was conducted September 1-6 and results are based on responses from 331 properties. These represent a combined pool of 34,300 rooms spread across the country.