Cork hotels and guesthouses are calling for Government support to continue into 2022 citing a challenging nine months ahead with reduced occupancy and slow recovery of international visitors.
According to the latest industry research from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), average room occupancy levels for 2021 stands at 27% to date for the South-West region which comprises Cork and Kerry.
With the summer over, the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has said the sector is entering an uncertain nine months as booking levels fall sharply in the absence of overseas visitors, meetings, and events which would normally sustain the sector during the off-peak season.
Chair of the Cork branch of the IHF Fergal Harte is urging the Government to give a firm commitment to continue business and employment supports until international tourism recovery begins in earnest in summer 2022.
“Government supports have been a vital lifeline for tourism businesses, including hotels and guesthouses in Cork — 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 further targeted assistance for tourism and hospitality and the almost 270,000 livelihoods supported by tourism before Covid — one in 10 of all Irish jobs, including 25,300 here in Cork.”
Government measures sought by the IHF include the extension of the current EWSS employment supports until June 2022 to help businesses retain and develop their teams over the coming months; the retention of the 9% tourism VAT rate until after 2025 to allow Irish tourism to compete internationally; and the extension of the commercial rates waiver until June 2022 when the summer seasons begins.
Substantial additional funding is also required for international marketing and the restoration of air connectivity with overseas markets to 2019 levels.
Mr Harte noted that while the domestic tourism market performed well over the summer months with average room occupancy in the South-West of 72%, business has been exceptionally poor this year to-date with occupancy levels averaging 27% for the first eight months due to the sector being shut until June.
“It is critical that the Government provides continued supports for our sector so that businesses have a fighting chance of getting back on their feet over the coming years. As Ireland’s largest indigenous employer, tourism and hospitality has been hardest hit by Covid restrictions,” he said.
“The thousands of livelihoods supported by tourism businesses in Cork matter — not only to the people working within the industry but also to the wider economy, especially the many areas where tourism is the only show in town. A failure to support the tourism and hospitality industry now will have ramifications for the future of Ireland’s tourism offering and for the economy,” Mr Harte added.