Hotel sector records €2.6bn loss in 2020

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The hotel sector has taken a €2.6 billion hit in 2020 compared to the previous year according to a study by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).

A survey revealed a 60 per cent fall in revenues as 9.5 million bednights were lost last year due to Covid-19 restrictions on travel and the hospitality sector leading occupancy rates to fall to just 30 per cent on average.

The IHF said the figures represented an “unprecedented financial hit to the sector” which has affected “all areas of hotel operations” including accommodation, food and beverages, corporate events and social gatherings.

In 2019, average occupancy rates in hotels and guesthouses was 73 per cent which was “decimated” in 2020 according to the representative body due to “severe restrictions and an obliteration of overseas tourism into the country”.

The IHF are predicting a bleak start to 2021 for the sector as Covid-19 restrictions look set to continue into spring, with the group calling on the Government to extend additional supports to businesses in order to allow for their survival.

They believe a new ‘Emergency Tourism Budget’, with targeted measures for the accommodation industry, would “ensure the viability of tourism businesses and the hundreds and thousands of livelihoods they support throughout the country”.

IHF chief executive Tim Fenn said the impact of Covid-19 has been sharply felt in the hospitality sector.

“We have experienced nothing short of a catastrophic financial shock, with risk of a prolonged and devastating impact on our industry and the ability of tourism businesses to survive and recover.

“Government supports so far have been piecemeal and fallen far short of what is required, given the extended restrictions and economic damage facing our sector.”

Under their proposed emergency tourism budget, the IHF are calling for increased Government supports for the sector, including; increases under the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), employment subsidies, a further six-month moratorium on bank term loans and an extension of the local authority rates waiver until the end of 2021 and a commitment to retain the 9 per cent tourism VAT rate until at least 2025 to “assist recovery and secure a viable and sustainable future” for the industry.

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