Chair of the Cork Irish Hotel Federation (IHF) Branch, Fergal Harte has addressed Cork TDs in a letter seeking the protection of the thousands of livelihoods supported by tourism and hospitality.
Mr Harte said that it is now make or break time for Irish tourism with businesses facing “an incredibly bleak seven months ahead”.
On behalf of hotels and guesthouses in Cork, the hotelier called for “urgent and unprecedented intervention from the Government” for an industry which is facing “a disastrous collapse in business levels”.
He emphasised that the industry faces “an imminent wave of further job losses” with 100,000 tourism jobs lost across the country so far this year and a further 100,000 jobs now at immediate risk.
Mr Harte has called for an increase in the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) to previous levels of €350/€410 per week for businesses , to reduce tourism VAT to 9% with additional liquidity measures including an extension of the moratorium on bank term loans from six months to 12 months, and an extension on the local authority rates waiver period.
“Already operating under severely challenging conditions, hotels and guesthouses have seen revenues wiped out as a result of Level 3 restrictions, which stop guests from travelling outside their county.
“Properties are effectively empty with no ability to generate revenues and facing enormous uncertainty. Many now have to make very stark choices about lay-offs and whether they can stay open for the remainder of the year given the inadequate support available.,” he said.
Prior to Covid-19, tourism businesses across Cork supported 25,300 jobs and generated €895 million in revenues annually for the local economy.
Last year tourism generated €9.2bn in revenues for the Irish economy, supporting 270,000 livelihoods throughout the country and contributing over €2bn in taxes to the exchequer.
This year, 18,600 tourism jobs are at risk across Cork.
“These jobs matter,” Mr Harte said.
“Not only to the people working within the industry but also to the wider economy, especially the many parts of regional Ireland where tourism is the only show in town.
“Failure to act now would do irreparable damage to the long-term viability of our industry and our ability to act as an engine for growth throughout the entire country. A severely devastated tourism sector would be a major loss both nationally and locally to our economy and wider society for many years to come. This can and must be avoided,” he said.