WATERFORD was smiling as it shook off many of the Covid restriction and re-opened on the bank holiday weekend.
Outdoor dining and drinking returned along with a lot of entertainment across the city and county. And there was a welcome boost for the hospitality industry with an increase in bookings for hotels and guesthouses.
They are recording reservation levels of 50% for June, 57% for July and 45% for August.
A survey from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) shows that bookings for Waterford county and the South East are running about 20% higher than the national average which has shown an increase of around 10% in the past month.
Aidan Quirke, Waterford representative of the IHF, said the figures were “a welcome morale boost”.
“a welcome morale boost”.
“The domestic market was a real positive last year and we expect home holidays to be very important for the sector again this year,” he said.
Waterford City and County Council has joined with Fáilte Ireland and local business to launch Visit Waterford.
“There really is something for everyone in Waterford,” said chairman David McCoy. He encouraged people to enjoy the “vibrancy of Waterford city, an award-winning food destination with an array of fantastic restaurants, cafés and food producers.”
The Cultural Quarter around O’Connell Street is to be pedestrianised every weekend during the summer months and the local businesses have come together to create an animated space under the theme #Lets Meet in O’Connell Street .
Ed Cahill owner of Tully’s Bar in the heart of the Cultural Quarter said the developments were heartening.
”I wouldn’t want to be doing business anywhere else,” he said.
Plans are also underway for the development of a local crafts market on O’Connell Street as a first step in a larger vacant spaces project.Beyond the Cultural Quarter, Waterford Council has pedestrianised several other city streets, reallocated street space and increased space available for hospitality.
Financial supports are available for businesses to enhance their outdoor spaces through the Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme.
And the Economic Recovery Plan launched by Government last week sets out a range of supports and investment for the tourism industry in Waterford, including the extension of the 9% tourism VAT rate.
Senator John Cummins urged eligible businesses to use the scheme.
“I know that some businesses haven’t had the opportunity to take full advantage of the reduced tourism VAT rate to date, so I’m delighted to see the extension until September 2022,” he said.
“This will give businesses across Waterford the opportunity to claw back some of their much-needed lost revenue. “