During 2009 the occupancy in hotels in Westport town remained the same as the previous year — a statistic which was praised by Cathaoirleach of Westport Town Council, Councillor Myles Staunton, during a presentation given to town councillors by Westport Chamber of Commerce, where the chamber outlined their preference for a reduction in town rates.
According to hotelier Darren Madden who runs Clew Bay, and who on behalf of hotels in the area, he outlined that even though the occupancy remained the same, guests were availing of these rooms at a much lower rate as often hotels are selling rooms below cost.
Mr Madden explained that the hotel industry in the town employs around 700 people and contributes 30 to 35 per cent to local rates — a medium hotel would pay around €35,000, while a larger hotel would pay around €100,000 in rates in the town. Hotels would also contribute vast amounts to water and refuse charges.
Emer McDermott from McDermott Travel, who represented the retail sector of the town, outlined to councillors that 20 per cent of business premises are vacant at the moment in the town due to the slump in retail sales.
President of the Chamber Danny McLoughlin said that on the back of such facts the chamber would seek a reduction in rates as a symbolic gesture to businesses in town — the lower rate (a reduction of 2.5 per cent ) was later struck at the town council’s budget meeting.