The Government is being urged to give hospitality and tourism businesses a date for reopening ahead of the summer season.

It is expected that hotels will be allowed to welcome guests in June as part of an easing of restrictions.

According to reports, a new state-backed scheme will be launched to encourage people to choose staycations over foreign holidays.

Supports for the hospitality sector are also set to be extended into the summer months.

Speaking to Down to Business with Bobby Kerr, Frankie Moran, General Manager of Aran Islands Camping & Glamping, says the tourism and hospitality sector needs certainty.

“It’s been a very stressful year, we are just itching to go, we really want people to visit and see our product and see the island,” she said.

“We’re fully booked from June 1st right through until September, we just need the Government, when the time is right, to give us a date so we can open and start back to work.”

‘Just give us a date’: Hospitality businesses urge Government to provide reopening timeline

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Ms Moran said they have been fully booked from early on in the year, and were optimistic that by April or May they would have reopened.

“Now it’s dragging on a little bit but we’re not going to lie down and give up, we have to keep going, we’re very positive, things are changing, so we just hope that hospitality will reopen in the summer,” she stated.

“It’s a very COVID-friendly product, I think that’s why it’s been so popular for us in the short time we were even open last year, all our rooms are spaced apart you’re outside, you’re at the beach so it was perfect for the current climate.”

It comes as the Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme was announced last month which aims to provide grants for developing outdoor dining capacity nationwide.

The €17m scheme will provide funding for individual hospitality businesses to develop their own outdoor seating capacity, as well as for Local Authorities to develop permanent outdoor public dining spaces in towns and urban centres.

File photo. Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay

On the same programme, Dick Ridge, owner and founder of Pod Umna Glamping Village in Co Galway, said the pandemic has been a “gamechanger” for the industry.

“I would say it’s been painful for everyone, but at the same time, it has been a huge learning curve,” he said.

“We now look at our product and make sure each of our individual pod cabins have a self-contained area so people can congregate in their own small groups.”

Mr Ridge added that the Outdoor Dining Scheme is a great initiative and businesses should avail of the grants available.

“We have to look at outdoor dining because we have to change our mindset, nobody wants to go out and be miserable and try to eat ham sandwiches and cold tea, you need to have comfort,” he said.

“There are grants available, up to €4,000 to enhance your dining facilities and that’s really important for every business to know that’s there.

“Because we need to change our mindset, we can’t have people sitting outside and expect them to be happy if the weather or the conditions aren’t suitable.”

Main image: Photo shows The Oliver St John Gogarty pub in Temple Bar. Credit: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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