Coronavirus could be 'catastrophic' for Cork hotels; weddings postponed and bookings cancelled

Coronavirus could be 'catastrophic' for Cork hotels; weddings postponed and bookings cancelled
Cork hotelier Michael Magner, owner of Vienna Woods hotel.Pic: Brian Lougheed

A CORK hotelier has said the cancelling of public gatherings could be “catastrophic” for the tourism and hospitality industry.

Michael Magner, owner of the Vienna Woods Hotel in Glanmire, has said that while the government calls for mass indoor gatherings of over 100 people to be cancelled are for people’s welfare, it will inevitably have significant knock-on effects for hotels and businesses.

“The advice is to cancel and postpone. So, what’s going to happen is businesses will end up in serious trouble,” he said while calling for clarity on the packages the government have outlined this week for employers and employees.

Mr Magner said that hotels won’t collapse, but that they will feel a significant impact from the changes announced on Thursday.

“In my business this morning - I have six weddings booked between now and the end of March and I’ve had to have conversations with every one of my couples. Unfortunately, the reality of it is, some of the weddings can’t go ahead,” he said.

“While they’ll be postponed, your wedding day at this point and time in a couples’ life is the most important day. For a couple now the effort and the planning that goes into it is incredibly important.

Pictured are (l to r) Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health; and Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health, during this evening's update on COVID-19 Ireland's preparedness and protocols in the Department of Health, Dublin. Photograph: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie
Pictured are (l to r) Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health; and Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health, during this evening's update on COVID-19 Ireland's preparedness and protocols in the Department of Health, Dublin. Photograph: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

“It’s the one day where they have their family, their friends, and their neighbours around with them to celebrate their union and this has thrown the cat among the pigeons and it’s very serious,” he added.

Mr Magner said that right across Cork, companies in the tourism and hospitality industry are seeing “massive cancellations” since the middle of last week.

The Vienna Woods Hotel agreed not to charge tour operators for cancelling within 14 days, despite the cancellation period normally being 28. Mr Magner said they hope they will get the business back in return.

“It’s at the stage now whereby the (hospitality) business has literally just tanked across Cork.

“Cork relies very heavily on the corporate and business market and it has just ceased,” Mr Magner said.

If the cancellation of gatherings continues, he doesn’t know what will happen. He said the government need to be especially proactive when it comes to creating packages for the tourism and travel industries, as he believes they will be the hardest hit.

Michael Magner said that there is also a possibility of job losses in the sector, people may be issued with protective notices, or could be put on social welfare.

“This is unprecedented. Nothing like this has ever happened before. While the financial crisis was there, that manifested itself because of overheating in global economies. This is completely different because it’s unknown,” Mr Magner said.

“Ireland is an open economy. It’s very susceptible to global shocks, and my god this is a global shock,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, Fergal Harte, Cork Irish Hotel Federation Branch president said: “The Irish Hotels Federation is calling for the immediate implementation of measures to assist with cash flow for those businesses facing short term problems, including a reduction in rates of tourism VAT and employers’ PRSI as well as arrangements for the deferral of these payments.

“We are also call on the Government to waive local authority rates until this crisis is over and to provide direct business supports for our sector, including finance and marketing assistance.”

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