Plea to Executive after ‘catastrophic’ week for hospitality

Plea to Executive after ‘catastrophic’ week for hospitality

The Executive has been urged to dial down speculative and unnecessary comments about hospitality following a “catastrophic” week for the industry.

Hospitality Ulster made the plea, saying the ‘work from home’ message; comments that hospitality is ‘high risk’ and the introduction of mandatory Covid-19 Vaccine Passports had seen a massive drop in footfall and a spike in cancelled reservations coming into what should be the busiest time of year.

The representative body has now called on ministers to ensure media comments are not speculative or framed in a negative context and to approve financial assistance for both businesses who will lose much of their festive trade, as well as staff who will lose out on additional pay at Christmas.

Chief Executive Colin Neill said: “The past week has been catastrophic for the industry as we have seen a severe drop in footfall and thousands of cancellations for the Christmas period. This will do untold damage to the hospitality sector which relies on trade in the festive months to see them through the lean months of the new year.

“Comments like, ‘Covid passes are because hospitality is high risk’, rather than a measure to make us ‘even safer’, have dealt a real blow to the already struggling sector.

“The comments made, and language being used by ministers, is causing customers to cancel reservations and be trepidatious about socialising during the Christmas period. This compounded with the work from home message is discouraging those who would usually be attending Christmas lunches and parties, poses a serious threat to many businesses.

“We have statements saying the Covid measures are to help keep us open, but the rhetoric says stay away from hospitality.

“The Executive must intervene and provide a coherent message and support for the industry where needed. It is imperative that all ministers realise the damage their words are causing and prioritise our sector in the months ahead.

“It is interesting that RoI government ministers are making statements that say their hospitality sector is ‘taking one for the team’ and ‘deserve help’, while our ministers remain silent on any assistance.”