Backing demanded to protect over 4,000 Laois Offaly jobs in €66 million sector

Hotels and guesthouses say loss of summer season must be compensated for

Leinster Express Reporter

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Leinster Express Reporter

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Weddings are one of the areas where hotels have taken a hit

Hotel and guesthouse owners across Laois and Offaly are calling for an urgent review of business and job supports for the hospitality sector following the announcement at the weekend that it is unlikely to reopen before mid-summer.

They are also asking the Government to intervene with the banks to ensure that appropriate supports and engagement processes are in place for business owners and their team members until Covid–19 has been suppressed.

Dara Cruise, chair of the Midlands branch of the Irish Hotels Federation warns that failure to act now will have long term implications that could take years to repair.

“Public health must always be the number one priority and we recognise the difficult balance the Government has to achieve.   However, if the all-important summer period is being eroded, additional supports are required now to safeguard businesses and the livelihoods they support until society reopens and the sector and wider tourism industry can recover.

“The news at the weekend resulted in acute frustration and anxiety for many people. Prior to this pandemic, some 4,400 livelihoods were supported by tourism and hospitality across Laois and Offaly with the sector contributing €66 million to the local economy.  

"Hotels and guesthouses not only provide local employment opportunities, they buy local services, source locally produced food and provide a vital infrastructure in support of local business and communities. In some parts, whole communities are built around tourism. 

"A severely devastated tourism and hospitality sector would be a major loss to the economy and society here for many years to come. This can and must be avoided.

“It wasn’t that long ago that in the aftermath of the last financial crisis tourism was the number one sector in terms of job creation. Government must step up with engagement and the required supports to ensure that the sector and its 270,000 community nationwide can recover,” he said.

Tourism sector at a glance (prior to COVID-19 pandemic) according to the IHF

·        10.9 million out of state visitors

·        Tourism accounts for almost 4% of GNP

·        Total tourism revenue of €9.2 billion in 2019 (including carrier receipts)

·        Tourism industry created over 90,000 new jobs since 2011. Before the COVID-19 crisis it supported almost 270,000 jobs, equivalent to 11% of total employment in Ireland with over 65,000 of these jobs in the hotel sector alone.

·        €7.25 billion in foreign exchange earnings

·        €1.96 billion in domestic tourism revenue in 2019

·        Total of 62,897 hotel and guesthouse bedrooms in Ireland (2019)