Hotel occupancy rates expected to hit 8% December low

Hotels across State predicting steep dip in for November and December, says lobby group

Hotels across the Republic are predicting steep slides in occupancy for November and December, according to the Irish Hotels Federation. File photograph: Getty

Hotels across the Republic are predicting steep slides in occupancy for November and December, according to the Irish Hotels Federation. File photograph: Getty

 

Fresh research by the hotel industry suggests bookings are at an “all-time low” following the upgrading of the State’s anti-virus response to Level 3, under which people are asked not to leave their county.

A survey this week of its members by the Irish Hotels Federation suggests a further collapse in reservations over coming months, with hotels in some parts of the country averaging occupancy rates in the single digits percentage wise.

The federation canvassed 310 hotels on Wednesday. Across the State the average occupancy rate for October suggested in the responses is 17 per cent, although this varies regionally between 22 per cent for the southeast surrounding Wexford and Waterford, and just 13 per cent projected in Dublin.

Hotels across the Republic are predicting steep slides in occupancy for November and December, according to the federation’s numbers. The national occupancy rate for December – traditionally a busy time for hotels with seasonal functions – is predicted to be just 10 per cent. Dublin hotels predict occupancy of just 8 per cent that month, with midlands and other eastern regions also in single figures.

The intercounty travel restrictions appear to have had a particularly stark effect on hotel bookings in regions such as the southwest, incorporating Cork and Kerry, popular destinations for domestic holidaymakers. Occupancy rates there are predicted to fall from 19 per cent this month to just 9 per cent in December.

‘Make or break’ budget

The federation estimates that, overall, the sector will be down 3.3 million bednights between October and December, compared to the same period last year. Federation chief executive Tim Fenn said next week’s budget is “make or break time” for the entire tourism sector. He said the industry has been has been “brought to its knees as a direct consequence of additional Government restrictions”.

“Over 100,000 jobs [in the wider tourism sector] have been lost so far with a further 100,000 at imminent risk as many hotels struggle to stay open in the face of enormous uncertainty for the remainder of the year. In the coming weeks, they will have to decide whether or not to close,” he said.

“What seems to be lost in the discussion around the impact of the pandemic on Ireland’s economy is that tourism and hospitality is one of Ireland’s leading export industries. Public health must always be the number one priority, but this goes hand in hand with ensuring a viable economy when this pandemic has passed. Time and again tourism has been a proven engine of recovery for the economy and ensuring regional balance. It can be again.”

The federation is calling on the Government to restore State wage subsidies to the top rate of €410 per week per employee, with weekly payment to ease cashflow constraints. It wants the tourism VAT rate cut to 9 per cent permanently; further liquidity measures, such as more loan forbearance from banks, and an extension of local authority rates waivers for at least another 12 months.

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