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Hotels seek funding to ensure survival

Padraig McGillicuddy: Without government supports,many businesses would not have survived.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

HOTELS and guesthouses in Kerry say they have experienced another exceptionally challenging year due to Covid-19.

Average room occupancy levels for 2021 stand at 27 per cent for Kerry thus year to date. according to the latest industry research from the Irish Hotels Federation, and with the summer over, the sector is entering an uncertain nine months as booking levels are falling sharply in the absence of overseas visitors, meetings and events.

Padraig McGillicuddy, PRO of the Kerry branch of the IHF, 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 – many would not have survived without the emergency measures put in place throughout this crisis,” he said.

“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, including 15,700 here in Kerry,” Mr McGillicuddy said.

The Kerry hotelier said while the domestic tourism market performed well over the summer months, with average room occupancy in the south west of 72per cent, business has been exceptionally poor year-to-date with occupancy levels averaging 27 per cent for the first eight months due to the sector being shut until June.

The industry is still subject to a delay in the full lifting of restrictions on hospitality and indoor events until October 22 as well as significant uncertainty around international travel.

Under the most optimistic scenario for the remainder of 2021, average occupancy is projected to reach 32 per cent nationally for the year as whole – a significant collapse in activity compared with 2019.