The Clare Chair of the VFI is hailing St. Patrick’s Day festivities as a milestone on the long road to recovery for the hospitality and tourism sectors.
Pubs, hotel bars and nightclubs were forced to close two days before the public holiday in 2020 due to emergence of the Covid-19 virus.
Then followed one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in Europe.
For many, the St. Patrick’s long weekend is the final goodbye to a near two-year-long pandemic.
Ireland’s hospitality sector was ordered by government to shut down on March 15th 2020 and twelve days later the country was placed on full lockdown.
This is the first time in three years that the public will be able to celebrate the occasion with the return of parades across the county.
An Ennis Publican is welcoming the return of some semblance of normality as publicans prepare to welcome droves of people clad in green, white and gold.
However, Charlie O’Meara says the industry is still in the early stages of recovery and that many complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic continue to persist.
He cites staffing issues, brought about the uncertainty of the pandemic and the elongated lockdowns as still causing difficulties.
While, O’Meara believes that the many Ukrainian refugees who wish to work could help plug the gap, that ultimately the onus is on the government to solve the problem.
The Chair of Clare’s Tourism Advisory Forum says many American tourists have returned to these shores to celebrate our Patron Saint.
Co-owner of Hotel Woodstock in Ennis, Seán Lally, is embracing the return of US visitors, who he says are visiting every nook and cranny of the county.
However, he’s echoing the sentiments of publican Charlie O’Meara in relation to the staff retention crisis.
The hotel owner says many are having to turn away businesses because they don’t have the staff to support it.
Seán Lally is now calling on the government to speed up the visa process for non-European citizens who wish to work in hospitality here.