Hoteliers are calling on the Government to allow people to travel outside their county and to permit indoor dining in hotels, including for non-residents, as part of its reduced restrictions for reopening society safely this December.

Bernadette Randles, Chair of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) Kerry branch, says these measures will ensure hotels in Kerry and across the country can reopen in a safe and sustainable manner, while helping to provide safe, controlled environments for people during the festive season this year.

DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS

“It is clear that Christmas will be very different this year. Nonetheless there is still an expectation that people will be able to travel to family outside their county, and hotels can be an important part of the infrastructure in facilitating this safely. We are urging the Government to recognise the important role hotels can play as part of the solution for a safer Christmas,” she said.

“Public health is our number one priority. Hotels provide very safe, highly-controlled, spacious environments with extensive measures in place to minimise the risk from COVID-19. The sector’s proven track record is borne out by statistics from the HPSC, which show that hotels have been associated with very few clusters (0.14%) since March.”

Ms Randles added that “by allowing indoor dining, including for non-residents, the Government can provide a safer option this year”.

“The controlled environment of hotels can help to minimise the number and extent of social gatherings in home settings, thereby significantly reducing the risk this Christmas.”

SEVEN DAYS’ NOTICE

The IHF is also asking for at least seven days’ notice of the revised restrictions for December so hotels can plan effectively.

“There are five key weeks of trading available to hotels when they reopen at the start of December so it is vital that hotels can operate as fully as possible while obviously staying within the restrictions. This trading period can act as a life buoy in terms of sustaining the early few months of the year. With two weeks of preparatory time remaining, and the necessity for reasonable lead-in times after such a long closure period, realistic advance notice is crucial.”

Before entering Level 5 restrictions, hotel revenues were already down by over 80% nationally.
“As a result of the current restrictions, revenues have collapsed even further and there is a real sense within the sector that hotels are being disproportionately affected despite our commitment and proven track record in safeguarding public health,” she said.

15,700 JOBS LOST

Since March, hotels and guesthouses, along with the wider tourism industry, have been decimated by the impact of COVID-19 Government restrictions. Prior to the pandemic, tourism and hospitality supported the livelihoods of some 270,000 people nationally, including 15,700 jobs in Kerry where it generated €592 million in revenues annually for the local economy.

“Hotels here in Kerry and in every county have shown that they can operate safely during this pandemic. All we are asking is for the opportunity to do so again and in a manner that will help make Christmas memorable for our guests, our teams and their families after such a difficult year for everyone,” she added.