Hotels, B&Bs, self-catering accommodation and hostels can reopen from today, as the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions on the tourism and hospitality sector begins.
However, services including leisure facilities, as well as indoor restaurants and bars, are restricted to residents only.
Around 65,000 people were employed by hotels pre-pandemic, with 270,000 employed in the wider tourism industry.
Fáilte Ireland has estimated that the reopening of tourism and hospitality over the coming weeks will help inject an estimated €1bn extra into the economy over the next few months.
“There is now cause for cautious optimism as the roll-out of the vaccination programme gathers pace,” said Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin.
“The reopening of the tourism and hospitality sector represents a further important step in the Covid-19 Resilience and Recovery Plan.
“Accommodation and restaurants along with pubs and bars will be able to reopen their doors after this difficult period of enforced closure,” she said.
The minister added that she is acutely aware of the importance of international visitors.
The country will not begin reopening to non-essential visitors from overseas until 19 July.
Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly said: “The continued safe reopening of the tourism and hospitality sector in Ireland this week will provide a much needed boost to our national recovery.
“Our economic analysis states that domestic tourism experienced significant growth in 2020 when restrictions were lifted.”
Hoteliers say they face significant costs of approximately €964 per bedroom or €72,000 for an average 75-bedroom hotel to get reopened.
“This is a huge cashflow challenge for most hotels and guesthouses who have already experienced nothing short of a catastrophic financial shock from this pandemic with months of prolonged closure and partial reopening,” said Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) President Elaina Fitzgerald Kane.
“It is essential that reopening grants are put in place that reflect the true scale of the reopening costs whilst laying the building blocks for recovery and the restoration of employment.”
The IHF has also claimed that continued employment supports will be vital in helping hotels keep their teams together after the summer peak season is over.
Although hotels are allowed to provide indoor food and beverage services to residents from today, outdoor dining services for restaurants, cafes and pubs will only resume from Monday, with indoor dining in such venues not resuming until 5 July.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland has said that no scientific evidence has been provided by the Government explaining why hotels are being treated differently to restaurants, pubs and hotels and has threatened to take legal action over the issue.
Summer is ‘looking good’
Adrian Elliot of Glasson Glamping in Co Westmeath, said the summer is looking good and he has a significant amount of bookings.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Elliot said the site caters for families and couples and that families in particular have been keen to book a holiday.
He said the pandemic has brought significant changes, but feels better prepared for this reopening compared to last year, and said individual cooking and toilet facilities were put in for guest accommodation, which helped a lot.
Mr Elliot said the business did not really benefit from Government grants or aid because it was only established in 2019 and had very little trading history, so has only received €2,000 in government supports so far.
Speaking on the same programme, Dick Ridge of Pod Umna Village B&B said staff are really excited to reopen.
He said they have used the time that the sector was closed to delve into what guests want and have increased the outdoor seating areas under canopy, so they can be comfortable whatever the weather.
Mr Ridge said there has been a steady flow of bookings since the site reopened for booking in April.