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Relief as hotel bookings are on the rise

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Kerry hotel and guesthouse owners across the country are welcoming the increase in bookings following the Government’s recent announcement that hotels will reopen on June 2.

The latest industry survey from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) shows booking levels nationally now average 31% for July and 27% for August – the key summer months.

This compares to levels of 23% and 21% respectively just ahead of the announcement.

As hotels and guesthouses across the country prepare to reopen, Bernadette Randles, Chair of the Kerry branch of the IHF, is calling on the Government to facilitate the return of vaccinated overseas travellers quickly to give a clear sign to overseas markets too that Ireland is open for business again.

“The increase in bookings in the past fortnight has been a welcome morale boost to our members and the thousands of people employed in Irish hotels," she said.

"The domestic market was a real positive last year and we know home holidays will be very important in supporting our sector again this year."

Ms Randles is calling on the Government to implement the EU COVID-19 Travel Certificate, expected to be approved by the EU next month, as quickly as possible. She is also calling for a firm commitment from Government on business and employment supports for the sector into 2022.

“Specifically, we are seeking for the EWSS to remain in place until the end of March 2022, an extension of the Local Authority Rates waiver until the end of March 2022 similar to what has been put in place in Scotland. We also ask that the COVID Restrictions Supports Scheme (CRSS), targeting businesses with a 75% drop in revenue, be doubled irrespective of the level of COVID restrictions and the €5,000 weekly cap to be removed, along with the doubling of reopening grants to reflect the scale of reopening costs after months of prolonged closure."

Ms Randles said hotels also require a clear commitment from Government to retain the tourism VAT rate. “The 9% VAT is a critical measure for international competitiveness and must be in place until 2025 to assist recovery and secure a viable and sustainable future for the industry,” she added.

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Therapy dog begins first day of school

By Michelle Crean A four-month-old puppy is the latest addition to school life at one local secondary school and his homework is to help students and staff. On Wednesday, there was great excitement as therapy dog Zoomer joined the school community at St Brigid’s on New Road – the second post primary school in the county […]

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By Michelle Crean

A four-month-old puppy is the latest addition to school life at one local secondary school and his homework is to help students and staff.

On Wednesday, there was great excitement as therapy dog Zoomer joined the school community at St Brigid’s on New Road – the second post primary school in the county to welcome such a dog.

It’s part of the My Canine Companion (MCC) charity which has a number of therapy dogs in schools across the country.

Deirdre Horgan from MCC paid a visit to schools looking for families for the charity’s socialisation programme. ​​​​​​

Zoomer is a mix of a sheepdog and a poodle and Deirdre’s dog Fifi is his mother.

In May Fifi had 10 puppies all named with the letter ‘z’. Just recently Fossa National School welcomed Zoomer’s sister Zazu to their classrooms, and puppy Zoro went to the CBS in Tralee.

The dogs not only provide comfort and support to pupils and students with Autism but to all in the school.

“There is an increasing body of research to support the benefit of a dog in school,” Ber O’Connor, a teacher in St Brigid’s, said.

Zoomer will be under the guidance of Ms O’Connor and some Transition Year students who will undertake a specific training programme for the therapy dog.

“The dog will be based in different rooms around the school but will have a timetable of interactions. We hope Zoomer settles in well and brings joy to many of our students lives. You can follow all the updates of Zoomer’s life on Instagram by following @zoomersbk or his TikTok account ‘zoomerthepuppy’.

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Brian James secures much sought after award

A local business is celebrating receiving a very special accolade – beating off stiff competition from UK and Irish retailers – by taking home the title of ‘Menswear Independent of the Year 2021’. Brian James, whose business is located on Main Street, secured the award at the internationally acclaimed Drapers Independents Awards in London last […]

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A local business is celebrating receiving a very special accolade – beating off stiff competition from UK and Irish retailers – by taking home the title of ‘Menswear Independent of the Year 2021’.

Brian James, whose business is located on Main Street, secured the award at the internationally acclaimed Drapers Independents Awards in London last week.

The highly respected and sought after Drapers Awards celebrate the very best of independent fashion retail and Brian James saw off exceptionally tough competition from other menswear stores to bring home this much coveted award.

Brian James were announced the winners at a celebratory luncheon in The Hilton London Bankside amongst fashion industry leaders and were presented with the iconic Drapers mannequin bust to much applause.

Commenting that Brian James has been a destination for fashion-conscious shoppers for more than 15 years, the judges praised Brian James’ strong “roster of brands” and said that it “offers an aspirational experience in Killarney”.

“Killarney is an incredible town to trade in – it is a brand in itself, offers the best of everything to those that are lucky to live here and an unbeatable experience for those that visit,” Brian O’Shea, who founded and runs Brian James for the last 15 years, said. “This award recognises Brian James and Killarney as a superior shopping destination town. Brian James and the other superb retailers in Killarney are an important piece of the jigsaw – the Park, the lakes and mountains, the hotels, restaurants and bars… it is the whole picture which guarantees the experience is first class.”

He added that his team are a key element of the experience at Brian James.

“My sincere thanks go to each of the team as without them we could not provide the customer experience and service we aim to ensure each and every time. Brian James’ success is also down to the partnerships we have developed over time with key international brands. On the store itself, of course we have relocated to our new super store on Main Street and more than doubled our floor space. Although it has been great to be able to design and create this stunning space to enhance the customer experience, it also allowed us to add more brands to our menswear mix. This year we will have added Hugo Boss and Eden Park to our familiar brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Gant, Barbour, Bugatti and Farah. The new space also plays host to ladies collections from Tommy Jeans, Calvin Klein, Diesel and Superdry and this is an exciting new element we are really enjoying too!”

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