What Does 2022 hold for Tourism Industry in Ireland
The National Irish Self Catering Federation is very disappointed on behalf of members that no funding support for the Short-Term Rental industry has been provided for SMEs in this industry. The Self-Catering industry was closed for many months due to the lockdowns in 2019 and 2020, but due to the Omnicron variant, a sense of confidence has not returned. An ITIC projection shows that the overseas market, which makes up 75% of the guests in the industry sector, may not return fully until 2025. Self-Catering was the most in-demand accommodation all over the EU in 2020, due to a lack of customers in the past two seasons property owners are seriously under pressure to continue in business.
Business in Difficulty in 2022
It is difficult to quantify the number of properties in trouble in Ireland, but in a Scottish Tourism Alliance survey, one in 3 business owners have stated the difficulty in running a business. The Survey stated that increasing costs and seriously reduced revenue shows that 52% of properties in the hospitality sector were in financial difficulties. Business owners in the tourism sector cited extreme concern over increased costs, particularly in relation to utilities, reduced revenue, or a combination of both as contributory factors. Staff shortage affected 52% over the survey period, the majority being in the hospitality sector.
Since March 2020 the tourism industry in Ireland has borne the brunt of the effects of the Covid pandemic. Self-Catering businesses have been closed for nearly 12 months in the past 2 years. The latest Covid Omnicron outbreak has caused a lack of confidence to book a holiday or short break in any accommodation, from Irish customers. The very important overseas markets are not booking holiday breaks in Ireland, due to the same uncertainty. Unlike the other sectors of the tourism industry Self-Catering has not received any finial support – no PUP, CRSS, or any other supports for these SMEs in rural Ireland. These businesses provided a warm welcoming service to guests, in many renovated properties, and most supplement family incomes. Unlike Ireland the Scottish government have many supports for the tourism industry to mitigate the effects of the Omnicron variant on the Self-Catering industry.
Regulation for Short Term Rental Sector
The French have taken over the EU Presidency will have talks on the proposal for Regulation of Short-Term Rentals on a statutory basis across the EU. This follows from consultation with the industry at the end of 2021 and the proposals for a register this is to be implemented in 2022. The European Holiday Home Association is a united voice of the short-term rental sector in the EU and the Irish Self-Catering Federation is very involved in these discussions. A registration scheme helps increase transparency and in theory, can provide the answer to the need for data. They also help to monitor the market and address the challenge of double counting of listings for statistical purposes. They should be simple, clear, online, automatic, and free of charge. Such registration schemes already exist in Europe, for example in Portugal.
The market is fragmented and there are multiple regulation systems throughout the EU. In Greece, an STR law in 2016, introduced a registration scheme. This enabled cooperation with Booking and Expedia to create a specific field for the registration number and was further developed, through a 2020 Memorandum of Understanding with Airbnb, Booking, and Homeaway that leads to the delisting of properties without registration numbers from 2022. In Ireland, the Rent Pressure Zones have caused an unbalanced Self-Catering sector and a lack of short-term rental in urban areas of Ireland. The EU plan in the first quarter of 2022 to identify the minimum dataset needed to develop a register. Considerations such as building on what already exists and using encrypted file exchange on a secured FTP server are also necessary. The procedure could be improved with the use of an API.
The Conclusion of the ISCF on EU Register
In the past 10 years, online platforms have had a big impact on the short-term rental sector and this sector is not the main choice of accommodation for safety and comfort. With the Covid pandemic the lack of clear understanding of who is staying where has created new challenges for public authorities in particular in terms of identification of Short term. Public authorities need data for policymaking, for developing tourism, but self-catering is a tourism product and not the solution to housing problems. Statistics, details of the quantity and quality of accommodation available can help the tourism market develop in a sustainable way.
The EU has an informal meeting of tourism ministers in Dijon on 26 and 27 January to discuss ways in which Europe can become the global destination for sustainable tourism and how to promote tourism for Europeans in Europe. They will also discuss how the register for all short-term rentals can be used to benefit the EU community as a whole. The ISCF believes that the Self-Catering market is changing in a major way due to Covid, not all reflected by the major 4 international portals referred to by the EU statistics. The EU does want to gather information on what is now called the collaborative economy platforms. There are many properties in Ireland outside these statistics. The ISCF will work on behalf of the industry in Ireland to get the best registration system for all Self-catering owners in Ireland.