NIHF calls for help as businesses fight for survival
Janice Gault, chief executive, NI Hotels Federation.
Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) is urgently calling for a joined-up approach from Government to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the hospitality sector.
NIHF Chief Executive Janice Gault said: “To quote Shakespeare, Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be, an often quoted adage, and taking this on board it’s difficult to see how additional debt will help an already stressed tourism economy or whether or not lending is the right course of action from the Treasury.
“This may be an initial response to an unprecedented situation and hopefully the start of a recognition of the plight of the tourism industry.
“On the back of the Chancellor’s announcement yesterday, the real questions for the hotel sector are firstly, how monies will flow and secondly, why our local Assembly seems to be playing catch up on the fiscal nightmare? A business rates holiday is welcome, three months is tokenistic, a year is a lifeline.
“Staff remain the number one priority for Northern Ireland’s hotel sector and indeed the wider hospitality industry. Their welfare is to the fore. We’ve always said they are our biggest asset and they remain our greatest concern. This week we have heard that things are moving at pace and that more assistance is on its way.
“Health is without doubt the priority. Fiscal fear causes anxiety. Yesterday saw over 1,200 people laid off. Today brings more news of closures as hoteliers struggle with the dilemma of limited business, no business funnel and a considerable wage bill. Fleet footed action is required to give employees access to benefits and business owners access to solid support pathways.
“All the hotels in Northern Ireland are in survival mode with thousands of jobs on the line unless we see a proactive package creating cash and liquidity for the industry.
“A joined-up approach from Government is imperative, at all levels. There is talk of stimulus. This is the wrong word for hotels and the wider hospitality sector. Survival is what we are talking about at this stage. Help needs to be more than a sticking plaster option.”