More than 15,000 jobs at risk as Galway hotels struggle

Galway daily news Plans for city centre hotel development off Eyre Square

There are 15,400 jobs in Galway alone in danger of being lost amid a massive drop in occupancy at hotels and guesthouses this season.

The Irish Hotels Federation’s latest industry shows that bookings for hotels and guesthouses have plummeted in September & October, with just 30% occupancy in the west of Ireland.

Projected revenues in the sector for September are down by 70% compared with last year, the IHF has said, putting huge numbers of jobs on the line.

John Ryan, Chair of the Galway branch of the IHF, said that hotels are still operating in “quasi-lockdown”, and that results of this survey highlight the need for greater supports for the sector.

“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.”

A severely devastated tourism sector would be a major loss to the economy and society here in Galway for many years to come,” John Ryan warned, adding, “This can and must be avoided.”

Prior to COVID-19, the tourism sector supported 20,900 jobs in Galway, contributing €910m to the local economy.

With a predicted revenue loss of €680m according to the IHF survey, 15,400 of these jobs are now under threat.

The industry is doing everything it can to protect public health whilst also trying to protect people’s livelihoods, he said, but added that “extraordinary challenges” have been exacerbated by additional restrictions imposed in the last month.

Businesses are, in effect, operating under close to lock-down 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.”

Supports announced for the sector thus far do not go nearly far enough to address the “unique and existential challenges” facing hotels, the IHF says.

The federation is calling for a review of the 6 person limit, an increase in support levels under the new Wage Subsidy Scheme, a tourism VAT reduction to 9%, an extension of local authority rates waivers, and an enhanced COVID-19 testing regime to facilitate the restoration of international travel.