HOTEL daily room rates here are over 40 per cent higher than they were in 2019 but a staffing crisis involving 1,000 vacancies is impacting the sector’s performance, said the Northern Ireland Hotel Federation (NIHF).
The industry body also said while occupancy rates last month compare favourably to the previous two years, sitting at 81.1 per cent for June alone, they are still four percent lower than pre-pandemic levels.
That rise can be attributed to three years of wage increases (around 15 per cent since 2019), energy costs surges and consumables like toiletries doubling in cost as well said the NIHF.
Janice Gault, chief executive of the NIHF said: “Maintaining and selling a room has increased by 30-40 per cent since 2019 and are currently continuing to increase. It is important to note that a VAT is applied to rooms at 20 per cent.”
She said the most concerning issue for the sector however, is a raging staffing crisis that has been exacerbated by Brexit and the pandemic.
“A recent member poll highlighted how performance is being curtailed by recruiting difficulties,” she said. “There are currently 146 hotels trading in Northern Ireland and, with a full staffing complement, they would support 10,000 direct positions. All hotels polled had vacancies which equate to around 1,000 jobs to be filled.
“The main vacancies relate to chefs and kitchen staff. However, over 50 per cent of those polled had housekeeping, restaurant, bar service, supervisory and management roles.”
She added: “On Brexit we lost access to a large pool of staff in the EU who have traditionally taken up service, housekeeping and kitchen roles. This pool is no longer available to us