Around 100,000 tourism jobs have been lost during the pandemic, with a similar number at risk in the weeks ahead, an industry body has warned.
The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) says the latest survey of its members had highlighted the enormous challenges the sector continues to face amid plummeting demand.
With the summer season finished, the IHF says hotels and guesthouses were reporting a 70 per cent drop in projected revenues for September compared with last year.
It says bookings for September and October indicated an average room occupancy level of 24 per cent across the country, compared with 86 per cent for the same period last year.
In July and August the occupancy rate was 49 per cent, compared with 90 per cent last year.
The federation has called for additional Government stimulus measures to aid the industry and a relaxation of Covid-19 regulations to enable larger indoor gatherings within hotels.
Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, president of the IHF, said: “Our industry is operating in a quasi-lockdown. The existing supports are totally inadequate for our industry given the current restrictions. If appropriate measures are not put in place, more jobs will be lost.
“A severely devastated Irish tourism sector would be a major loss to Ireland’s economy and society for many years to come. This can and must be avoided. We are doing everything we can to protect public health whilst also helping to restore the economy and safeguard people’s livelihoods, but we face extraordinary challenges.
“These have been greatly exacerbated by the additional restrictions introduced last month, including limiting indoor gatherings to no more than six people.
“Businesses are, in effect, operating under close to lockdown conditions,” said Ms Fitzgerald Kane.
She added: “It is our belief that the controlled environment provided by hotels can safely accommodate gatherings of significantly more than six people, which are an essential part of the fabric of Irish life.
“A major frustration for us continues to be the lack of meaningful consultation with our industry in advance of new restrictions being announced by Government.
“All areas of society negatively impacted by Covid-19 should be consulted, including businesses, when developing the Roadmap for Resilience and Recovery, which is due to be published on September 14th. Public health goes hand in hand with ensuring a viable economy when this pandemic has passed.”