Recovery ‘could take years’, warns Fitzwilliam Hotel manager

Recovery ‘could take years’, warns Fitzwilliam Hotel manager

The manager of Belfast’s five-star Fitzwilliam Hotel has warned “it could still take two to three years for hospitality to regain its former strength”, but hailed the impact of staycations in saving 2021.

Cian Landers, who took the helm at the landmark property in 2012, told LCN: “Tourism has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, but I am confident that we can and will eventually recover.

“While travel restrictions are beginning to ease in parts of the world, it could still take two to three years for hospitality to regain its former strength. I really look forward to that.”

Cian, who has seen The Fitzwilliam awarded five-star accreditation by Tourism NI in 2017 and win the AA Hotel of the Year Award for Northern Ireland 2019 – 2020, told LCN the remainder of this year looks positive in terms of sustainable trade “which has continued to come from our local leisure markets”.

He added: “We continually review our target audience, and we know who is staying with us and where they have come from.

“The domestic market represents our best prospect in the short-term future, so it makes commercial sense for us to focus on these markets over the coming months.”

‘A variable career option’

Meath native Cian, who started his hospitality career as a chef, also warned that the industry needed to react to how the twin challenges of Covid and Brexit have helped create a recruitment crisis.

“The combination of both has depleted the labour pool and caused shortages across all areas of the business,” he told LCN.

“In terms of attracting new people, I think from the very early stages we need to put hospitality in front of people as a long-term career option, not just a temporary job (while studying or travelling).

The stunning interior of the five-star Fitzwilliam Hotel

“By showcasing all the different areas you can work and move around in within hospitality, we may also help people to see it as an exciting and variable career option.

“It’s no secret that working in hospitality is hard work with long hours, but we need to show all the opportunities and stepping stones that are available.

“It is also so important to provide a positive and supportive working environment and ensure that people have the right support, guidance, and on-going training and development.

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