ALMOST 9,000 jobs in hospitality and tourism in Clare are at immediate risk, with the sector braced for what industry leaders are calling “an impending disaster”.
While hotels and pubs serving food are set to re-open from next Monday, representative groups are concerned about the chances of salvaging the 2020 season. An industry briefing for Clare, prepared for the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), reveals that 8,800 jobs are at risk in 2020. The figure represents close to 75% of all jobs in the industry in Clare, and the same percentage of the total revenue the sector generates for the county. “Up until recently, tourism and hospitality across Clare supported 12,000 jobs and generated €266 in revenues annual for the local economy,” the IHF briefing stated. “We are now facing a deepening crisis with 8,800 tourism jobs at risk across Clare and local tourism revenues estimated to drop by €200 million as businesses fight for survival,”
Responding to the figures, North Clare hotelier Michael Vaughan, described the mood as “very depressed and disconsolate”. “We are all very well prepared and the guests will barely notice many of the changes,” he said. “I would normally be at 95% occupancy, when it’s looking like 20% for July and 30% for August. The fact is that the domestic market just cannot compensate for the lack of international visitors.”
Mr Vaughan also highlighted challenges for hotels who open on a seasonable basis, noting that they cannot avail of the wage supports. “Hotels in Ennis, for example, can avail of the support,” he noted. “That could be viewed as anti-competitive when so many seasonal hotels don’t qualify.”
The tourism impact of Covid-19 is all the more difficult in light of the huge boost the county enjoyed around this time last year when Lahinch hosted the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. “The spin-off in terms of the golf was set to give us a bonanza 2020,” Mr Vaughan noted. “Instead, we find ourselves living off the scraps.”
Mr Vaughan, a former president of IHF, welcomed the council’s move to waive commercial rates. He also said the return of international flights might save the end of the season, as well as any tweaking of the rule which makes a 14-day quarantine mandatory here. “Spending a fortnight in quarantine is nobody’s idea of a holiday,” he said.