Hotels and guesthouse owners in Kerry are calling on the Government to clarify what the reopening of the sector will look like amid confusing and mixed messages about what plan the Government have for the hospitality sector going forward.
They are also seeking a commitment to specific measures and supports including inter-county travel that will enable businesses to plan effectively for a safe and sustainable reopening.
Chair of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) Bernadatte Randles, said "bookings are at a historic low" amid the confusion.
"With June just over a month away, hotel bookings nationally are at an historic low, currently averaging only 22% for the key months of July and August. It is critical that the Government gives clarity to consumers and businesses as a matter of urgency.
"Booking levels have never been this low so close to the key summer months, which are a lifebuoy for many businesses for the remainder of the year. Unless this is turned around quickly, there will be serious implications for the recovery of our sector here in Kerry and elsewhere that could take years to remedy."
Ms Randles said it is vital that the Government give a detailed roadmap when they make their announcement this week on the easing of further restrictions. The IHF are seeking specific measures to aid re-opening including inter-county travel to be permitted, hotels to be open for all patrons, not just residents, and capacity to be linked to function room sizes for events as well as outdoor capacity to be linked to available space.
They are also calling for plans for easing restrictions on family gatherings including weddings and christenings and for the EU Digital Green Certificate to be adopted and plans to be in place for other vaccinated international travellers.
"We are asking the Government to outline a more detailed roadmap for reopening the hotels sector safely based on clear progress markers for restrictions to be eased in line with public health improvements. While we recognise the challenges around public health and suppressing Covid that it is facing, the ongoing lack of detail is jeopardising the viability of hotels and guesthouses as they grapple with the financial and operational commitments required to be ready to reopen."
"Public health remains our number one priority as we reopen society and the economy. The hotels sector has a vital role to play as part of this process in ensuring Irish tourism and hospitality returns to a more stable footing in the months ahead - helping to sustain thousands of businesses and almost 270,000 livelihoods.," she said.
In Kerry, pre-Covid tourism supported 15,700 jobs and contributed €592 million to the local economy.
Ms Randles said the Government must also give a commitment on business and employment supports.
"While the supports to date have been very welcome, it is essential that the Government provides greater clarity and certainty now around supports into 2022 and beyond. Wait and see is not the approach for sustainable business planning and job recovery," said Ms Randles.