Hotels have pleaded for an emergency Government support package after warning tough new Covid-19 control measures have seen winter occupancy rates collapse to below 9pc in some areas.
The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) revealed the weekly rate of new bookings has plummeted by 67pc after Dublin and Donegal were placed in Level 3 lockdowns and four other counties now face the threat of lockdowns from tomorrow.
Average October occupancy rates are now just 26pc, falling to a mere 9pc in November.
Room occupancy rates were 51pc in September but have more than halved in the space of four weeks.
One Kerry hotelier warned the industry was facing up to the reality that foreign tourists weren’t likely in Ireland until late next year – with massive pressure on both earnings and operating costs.
Emer Corridan, general manager of the Cahernane House Hotel in Killarney, said hoteliers faced a stark six to nine months ahead.
She said occupancy rates had been dropping and, most alarming of all, there had been a number of cancellations from domestic holidaymakers who had been fuelling the ‘staycation’ business.
“We need the Vat rate reduced and the subsidy scheme to be extended for employees,” she said. “There are 15,500 jobs supported across Kerry alone at the moment and there is a risk to those jobs over the winter.”
Fergal Harte, general manager of the Kingsley Hotel in Cork, warned the industry was now facing “make-or-break time”.
“Urgent and unprecedented intervention from the Government is required to support tourism businesses and safeguard thousands of jobs throughout the sector,” Mr Harte said.
Tourism brings in 10.9 million foreign visitors to the country each year, with the sector accounting for 4pc of GNP and contributing €9.2bn to the economy last year.
Tourism supported more than 260,000 jobs – accounting for one in 10 jobs in the entire workforce and more than 60,000 jobs in the hotel sector alone.