The fast approaching next year budget, as many as nine out of 10 hotel bedrooms in Dublin were empty.
As working nights fall seriously in Ireland’s hotels, so sleepless nights have risen. and that they surely hit a peak this Monday, on the eve of the most important budget of our lives.
Budgets are always about lobbying, but never had such a lot been on the road . The tourism industry own by Ireland has been in car-crash mode since mid-March. Sure, summer brought a reprieve for a few – self-catering briefly became the new loo roll and resorts along the Wild Atlantic Way were ready to rescue a semblance of a season. But no body is visiting from other countries, no festivals or events, no corporate business, no big conferences or weddings, that would only ever be a Band-Aid.
The fast approaching 2021 budget, as many as nine out of 10 hotel bedrooms in Dublin were empty. Out-of-work chauffeurs had staged a summer “drive to survive” to spotlight their plight. Many businesses had closed early for winter.
One coach tour operator, wont to catering for Americans and continental visitors within the shoulder season, had pivoted to supply domestic tours of Donegal, just for Donegal to travel into Level 3 lockdown. it had been like building a sandcastle because the tide came in.
There were brief sparks of hope. We heard talk about a possible Covid-19 testing system for overseas travel, and therefore the zombie Green List was resuscitated… just for the amount of nations thereon to be slashed to four, then zero. Ryanair threatened winter base closures.
Restaurants opened. And shut. And opened. And shut.
“Plan, plan, plan… it is the fundamental thing they teach you in marketing college,” because the owner of a Co Kerry guesthouse told me in the week . “But that is the problem. Right now, you cannot plan anything.”
Budgets are always about lobbying, but they threw the sink at this one. Tourism and hospitality groups and businesses everywhere Ireland got the lead out, and got on an equivalent message. there have been social media campaigns for “support, not sympathy”.
Last week, hotels and tourist attractions like the Guinness Storehouse and Cliffs of Moher were lit up green during a symbolic cry out for help.
Local TDs were lobbied ’til the cows came home… and a touch after. there have been calls, emails, Zooms, release after release sent to journalists. Something – anything! – to urge the message out: “Tourism is on the brink. It needs life support.”
The penny seems to possess dropped. A tourism and hospitality forum was found out . Recommendations from the tourism taskforce appear to truly are read, delivered to Cabinet, and brought on board.
Those in power appeared to realise Covid-19 has not hit all sectors equally. Tourism has shed 100,000 jobs, and will lose 100,000 more. The danger was clear and present.
Even so, as October 13 approached, there was a fear the VAT reduction, news of which had leaked beforehand , would be the most event. “VAT at this stage makes damn all difference,” together hotelier told me.
It’s something, of course, but it can not help if you are not making take advantage the primary place.
But there was more. It wasn’t perfect. Arguably, it wasn’t ok . But alongside that VAT cut, there was a replacement Covid restrictions support scheme that might allow businesses forced to shut during lockdowns to say up to €5,000 a week. There was a €55m business continuity fund, and extensions to the wage support and rates waiver schemes.
It’s not enough to plan for the longer term , to urge Irish tourism in fighting shape for 2021, to fireside the reboot required to exit this pandemic and compete for international visitors again, but it’d just buy a touch time. it is a step towards survival.
Here’s hoping they got a well-earned night’s sleep