Local hotel chief claims there are 5,500 jobs at risk in Donegal
The latest industry survey* from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) reveals the enormous challenges facing hotels and guesthouses in Donegal and across the country as demand continues to plummet as a result of the Covid crisis.
The impact on employment and people’s livelihoods is stark for an industry that supported 270,000 jobs nationally at the beginning of the year − 1 in 10 of all Irish jobs.
An estimated 100,000 jobs of these have been lost so far this year and a further 100,000 are now at imminent risk in the coming weeks, including 5,500 in Donegal.
With the summer season finished, Ireland’s hotels and guesthouses are now reporting a 70% drop in projected revenues for September compared to this time last year.
Bookings for September/October have plunged with average room occupancy levels at 33% in the Border region.
This follows a very challenging July and August with average national occupancy at 49%, representing an enormous drop compared the 90% occupancy achieved during these key summer months last year.
Commenting on the results, Paul Diver, chairman of the Donegal branch the Irish Hotels Federation, said that the figures highlight the requirement for further sector specific measures to support Irish tourism.
“Our industry is operating in a quasi-lockdown. The existing supports are totally inadequate for our industry given the current restrictions.
"If appropriate measures are not put in place, more jobs will be lost. Prior to the Covid crisis, tourism supported 7,500 jobs in Donegal, contributing €249m to the local economy. With a predicted revenue loss of €185m, 5,500 of these jobs are now under threat.
“A severely devastated tourism sector would be a major loss to the economy and society here in Donegal for many years to come.
"This can and must be avoided. We are doing everything we can to protect public health whilst also helping to restore the economy and safeguard people’s livelihoods, but we face extraordinary challenges.
"These have been greatly exacerbated by the additional restrictions introduced last month, including limiting indoor gatherings to no more than six people," he said.
He added that businesses are, in effect, operating under close to lockdown conditions.
"This flies in the face of the detailed operational guidelines that are in place, endorsed by the HSE, HSA, HPSC and the FSAI as well as hotels’ proven track record in managing gatherings safely.
"It is our belief that the controlled environment provided by hotels can safely accommodate gatherings of significantly more than 6 people, which are an essential part of the fabric of Irish life.
“A major frustration for us continues to be the lack of meaningful consultation with our industry in advance of new restrictions being announced by Government.
"All areas of society negatively impacted by Covid-19 should be consulted, including businesses, when developing the Roadmap for Resilience and Recovery, which is due to be published on September 14. Public health goes hand in hand with ensuring a viable economy when this pandemic has passed.”
Commenting on the additional Government supports required for the tourism industry, Mr Diver said the measures contained in the Government’s stimulus package do not go far enough to address the unique and existential challenges facing their industry.
"In particular, they fail to deliver adequate supports around competitiveness and liquidity in particular.”
“Safeguarding public health is an absolute priority for the Irish Hotels Federation and our members, who are fully committed to supporting the Government in the task of surpressing Covid-19.
"We also wish to be part of the process of restoring the economy and the livelihoods of the almost 270,000 people who worked in our industry last year. But we need support now so we can play our part again in the recovery. The National Economic Plan in October will come too late for many,” said Mr Diver.
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