Hotels and guesthouses around the country are reporting average booking levels for July and August of just 20%, according to the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).

Reservations are particularly low in Dublin, with booking levels of just 12% and 14% respectively across the two months.

"We have never seen bookings levels for the key summer months so low at this time of year," said IHF chief executive, Tim Fenn.

The record low levels of pre-booking for the summer season come amid increased uncertainty about when Covid-19 restrictions will be eased enough to allow most hotels and other hospitality to reopen.

Last weekend the Taoiseach said the sector is unlikely to reopen before mid-summer.

The IHF is now calling for urgent clarity to be given about how long business and employee supports will continue.

"The domestic market was a real positive for hotels and guesthouses last year and we expect home holidays to be very important again this year," Mr Fenn said.

"However, in the meantime, hotels have to plan, and the lack of certainty over business supports is a huge challenge for hospitality businesses."

The news that booking levels are at such a low will be of great concern to the sector, given that July and August are traditionally the busiest months of the year.

"If the all-important summer period is being eroded, additional supports are now required to safeguard businesses and the livelihoods they support until society reopens safely and the sector and wider tourism industry can recover," Mr Fenn added.

"Specifically, we are seeking increases in payments under the Covid Restrictions Supports Scheme (CRSS), enhanced employment subsidies, extension of the local authority rates waiver until the end this year."

"We also ask the Government to intervene with the banks to ensure they have appropriate supports and engagement processes in place for hotels and their team members until Covid – 19 has been suppressed."

Mr Fenn said hotels also require a clear commitment from the Government that the 9% tourism VAT rate will be retained as they are contracting international business up to two years out, but can't give a commitment on price.

The Minister for Finance recently said that the rate will remain reduced for the remainder of the year but hasn't signaled if it will be retained beyond that.

Tomorrow the Government is expected to announce details of its revised Living With Covid Plan, and it is expected more information will be provided on the extension of supports.