“Unfair competition” could force hotel closures - IHF chairman

Unfair competition from the so-called NAMA and bank controlled hotels will force the closure of family owned establishments in the county if the Government doesn’t act, the chairman of the Donegal branch of the Irish Hotels Federation warned this week.

Unfair competition from the so-called NAMA and bank controlled hotels will force the closure of family owned establishments in the county if the Government doesn’t act, the chairman of the Donegal branch of the Irish Hotels Federation warned this week.

Terry McEniff, proprietor of the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny, also hit out at the failure of Failte Ireland to fund a marketing campaign for Donegal when it had already committed funding of 1.3 million euro to promote the Irish Open Golf championship in Portrush this summer.

In an interview with the ‘Democrat’, the recently appointed IHF chairman spoke of the challenge confronting family run hotels in the county in opposition to those hotels now operating under the National Asset Management Agency and the banking sector.

“A lot of them are facing unfair competition as a result. The NAMA/Banks hotels do not have the same overheads as we have and such a scenario could threaten the future of some of the family run hotels.

“It’s an issue that needs to be addressed urgently and we are lobbying the National Federation to take a line on the Government with it.

“If action isn’t taken we can expect to see more hotel closures and job losses in the county,” insisted Mr. McEniff.

His own hotel had, in keeping with other establishments throughout Donegal, been forced to prune their costs base.

“We’ve had to trim the fat right across the board. To do business in Ireland is far too expensive in terms of commercial rates and excise duties and general costs. The VAT reduction from 13 and a half percent to 9 percent is only one step and more needs to be done,” said the local IHF chairman.

Mr. McEniff claimed the lack of funding for marketing purposes from Failte Ireland was another retrograde step as far as the industry in Donegal was concerned.

“There is simply no money being provided for advertising Donegal in 2012. Yet Failte Ireland is pumping money into promoting the Irish Open golf tournament in Portrush. I’m not sure what the Northern Ireland tourist board is putting into it but we are providing 1.3 million euro but can’t get a penny to market Donegal despite the fact that we have seven of the top thirty golf courses in the country.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for having the Irish Open taking place in close vicinity to us. It will be of more benefit to this county that having it staged down in Kerry or Kildare but we still need funding to market Donegal.”

READ MORE IN TODAY’S DONEGAL DEMOCRAT