Approximately 90% of Northern Irish hotel staff have been furloughed or laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis, according to Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) chief executive Janice Gault, who has also said that most Northern Irish hotels currently have no income.
The Belfast Telegraph quotes Gault as saying, "On January 1, there were 145 hotels in Northern Ireland. Over the course of the last five years these businesses have invested £600 million to create accommodation and hospitality product that enable us to showcase Northern Ireland.
"Businesses borrowed money with repayment plans linked to projected income and support in the region of 15,000 staff directly, indirectly and through the supply chain."
Gault said that despite most Northern Irish hotels having no income, they still have to pay costs such as payroll, loan repayments, and security, utilities, insurance and services costs, and that while the government scheme to pay 80% of wages is welcome, staff still have to be paid in the short term. She added that most hotels do not qualify for the Executive's £25,000 grant scheme because rateable net annual value (NAV) is over the £51,000 threshold.
Request For Support
The NIHF has requested government grant support of at least £25,000 for all certified accommodation businesses beyond the £51,000 NAV level.
The Belfast Telegraph quotes NIHF president Stephen Meldrum as saying, "The federation has also reiterated its request for rate relief of 100% in relation to the 2020-21 rate year for all those in hospitality and tourism.
"This approach would mean that Northern Ireland is in line with the measures being adopted in England, where the chancellor has recognised the burden that rates will be to the sector and has acted to mitigate this liability."
A Northern Ireland Department for Economy spokesperson stated, "Businesses are eligible to apply for the £25,000 grant scheme if they are within the NAV range of £15,001-£51,000. We will explore the potential to support businesses not currently eligible and will look to address as many of the gaps as we can."
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