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Hotels in need of a 'loaves and fishes' miracle

   

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Help needed: Hotel group director Aaron Mansworth

Help needed: Hotel group director Aaron Mansworth

Help needed: Hotel group director Aaron Mansworth

A leading hotelier has warned that while the Government's economic stimulus package is to be welcomed, it faces performing "the miracle of the loaves and fishes" for some Covid-19 hit sectors of the tourism industry.

Aaron Mansworth, director of the Trigon Hotel Group, said their sector was trying to cope with the loss of not just overseas holidaymakers but corporate business and the money-spinning wedding trade as well.

"It is important to be positive so I would welcome the Government measures. We need every bit of help that is being offered," he said. "But it is also important to realise the state the industry now finds itself in.

"While there is a 'staycation' bounce, it has so far focused on coastal areas and prime tourism destinations.

"At this time of year, normal occupancy rates for Irish hotels would be around 90pc. But the evidence now is that occupancy rates in some Dublin hotels are around 16pc.

Reopening

"We are luckier here in Cork and occupancy rates are around 32pc or so.

"We are delighted to be back open. But we are way, way down on normal summer trading levels."

The Trigon Group operates three hotels in Cork - The Metropole, Cork Airport and Cork International: "We have reopened two of our hotels. But one of our airport hotels has remained closed. We just couldn't justify reopening it with passenger numbers through Cork Airport down by around 90pc."

Mr Mansworth said the acid test of the Government stimulus would be how hotels fared from September through autumn and into the winter.

"That is the question - what happens when children go back to school? There will hopefully be a good market for older and retired people taking further holidays and short breaks," he said.

"But hotels tend to rely on corporate business. In Cork, that accounts for around 60pc of the market at certain times of the year. That has now virtually vanished with major companies adopting a no-travel policy for their executives and staff.

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"The sector is going to need all the help it can get if it is to recover to pre-pandemic levels."

Ireland's tourism industry is worth €9bn each year.

Tourism and spin-off sectors employ 260,000 - or one-in-10 people within the entire economy.

Mr Mansworth pointed out that a lot of hotels also depended heavily on function and wedding business - both of which had been crippled by the pandemic lockdown and ongoing restrictions on numbers attending indoor events, with no indication of when such restrictions might be lifted. 


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