Internal industry figures show hotels in Dublin city center are facing a catastrophic summer, with average occupancy rates of around 13% only forecast for the peak of the summer based on current reservations.
This contrasts with hotels in many areas outside the capital which have seen an increase in bookings since the sector reopened on June 2 and domestic tourism resumed.
Hoteliers and their representatives have criticized the government’s decision this week to impose strict quarantine measures even on vaccinated travelers from Britain in their efforts to slow down the more transmissible variant of the delta virus, which originated in India .
The joint travel zone with the UK effectively remains suspended on this side of the Irish Sea, as vaccinated UK travelers must quarantine themselves in their accommodation for five days, while those not fully vaccinated must isolate yourself for 10 days.
Dublin hotels, by far the hardest hit in the industry during the pandemic, were counting on an increase in UK visitors to save some trade in the coming months. The relative importance of British visitors is more pronounced in the capital, with domestic tourists more likely to leave Dublin.
That hope has now been dashed by stricter-than-expected rules announced this week following meetings between the government and public health officials. Vaccinated UK visitors were expected to be spared isolation or quarantine requirements when international travel resumes on July 19.
The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) called the measures a “blow” to the city’s hotels. Paul Gallagher, general manager of the Buswells Hotel, a well-known political haunt near Leinster House, said vaccinated travelers “should have the freedom” to visit without restriction.
“The quarantine measures are like telling even vaccinated British visitors not to come. On a list of things to do when traveling to Dublin, staying alone in your hotel room for five days isn’t very high, ”he said.
Figures released to the industry by data research firm STR illustrate the shortage of bookings in the capital. Earlier this week, less than one in four hotel rooms were expected to be occupied this weekend among a sample of the city’s more than 40 hotels.
No pickup is evident for school closings. On most days in July, fewer than one in 10 hotel rooms are booked in the city. This jumps up to mid-to-late teens in percentage terms on Friday and Saturday nights.
There is a slight increase for the month of August. Even so, Dublin hotels are booked for less than a fifth on most weekend nights. Average bookings are 13% over the next 28 and 90 days.
Mr Gallagher said five-star hotels would perform better as domestic tourists indulge in luxury nights.
He said Dublin hotels were burning money by rehiring staff they didn’t need to avoid staff shortages after the pandemic.
The IHF said the new UK restrictions come “at a time when Dublin hotels already have occupancy levels at historic lows”.
“This is a very worrying development, especially given the increasing level of demand in recent weeks for travel to Ireland from our nearest neighbor.”