Hospitality staff shortages not a new challenge, says Fáilte Ireland director

ireland
Hospitality Staff Shortages Not A New Challenge, Says Fáilte Ireland Director
Fáilte Ireland’s director of sector development, Jenny De Saulles said the closure of hospitality businesses has meant “some great skills” in the industry. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images
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Vivienne Clarke

Staffing problems within the tourism sector are not a new challenge according to Fáilte Ireland’s director of sector development, Jenny De Saulles.

Working in hospitality during a pandemic was a very vulnerable time for staff, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

The closure of some businesses had meant that “some great skills” had been lost to areas like the retail sector, she added. However, Ms De Saulles pointed out that following the last recession the sector had bounced back.

“We grew employment faster than any other sector, I'm sure that we will do that again. What needs to happen is that people need to see tourism as being a stable employment choice, once it is, we will get people back into the industry.”

Balance

The hospitality sector was looking for a balance between a robust system that would ensure the safety of employees and customers, and a system that businesses could reasonably implement, she said.

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“We're asking everybody to bear with this - this is about Government reopening up the economy. There's about 120,000 jobs associated with hospitality and it is important that we get people back into those jobs, there are certain businesses out there that haven't been open in 15 months, we are still in the middle of a public health crisis.

“The situation with the Delta variant has caused concerns, so it is important for us to get these businesses open, but we have to be balanced and put additional restrictions in place to manage this," Ms De Saulles said.

“There is no doubt that for businesses these guidelines are challenging, but again, this is about getting businesses open. Businesses are currently closed, because they don't have the ability to do outdoor dining, what we're looking to do as much as possible is to get the economy back up and going - to get tourism businesses open - this is the way to get those businesses open,” she added.

When asked about premises not reopening, Ms De Saulles said it was up to each business to decide if it was “the right thing for them or not”.

This is allowing businesses to open back up and we are getting tourism back open.

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“The key piece that businesses are being asked is just to manage that entrant point, yes, while it is a little bit onerous, it is possible to do it. Businesses have their own choice to make.

“The positive is this is a good news story, this is allowing businesses to open back up and we are getting tourism back open.”

Ms De Saulles explained the new regulations will be monitored by compliance officers, either from the HSE or the HSA: “The main thing they are going to be looking at is that the business is demonstrating that they are managing access to their indoors for the consumption of food indoors and that they are only allowing those that have proof of immunity inside to eat food.”

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The compliance officers will also operate outside business hours, she added.

If a customer had documentation from an official source then that would be recognised. The Northern Ireland NHS cert will be valid, Ms De Saulles confirmed.

Fáilte Ireland is also working on sample documentation to provide to businesses, but this was proving “quite challenging” as there were different certs within the UK and in the US there were different certs in each State, she added.

“We are working with the Department of Health to collate samples - we will be putting those up on Fáilte Ireland guidelines.”

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