President of Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce, Colin Ahern is hopeful that our medieval city will emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic stronger and better in ways than before.
“The innovation and resilience displayed by businesses across the city and county over the past nine months has been incredible, people have worked really hard,” he said.
“2020 had started with such optimism, I was looking forward to a good year both for business in the Ormonde Hotel (where Colin is manager) and for my term as president of the Chamber.
“Then in the middle of March the full impact of Covid hit and we quickly realised that all our lives would be affected by this virus.
“When the country was locked down the first time it was difficult to see a way out and how we could all adapt and develop our businesses but we did.
“A huge amount of time and effort was put into business to make them safe and when the restrictions lifted and customers returned in the Summer months consumer confidence came back and businesses bounced back which was due to the great effort that was made by everyone,” added Mr Ahern.
Now in the middle of Winter and Level 5 restrictions the President of the Kilkenny Chamber said this second lockdown has a different feel to it.
“As we reached Level 5 of the Living with Covid Plan in Winter things were different. Many businesses had developed an online presence, there are business who were doing 5% of their business online before the pandemic and are now doing 50%.
“Business has been incredibly innovative and resilient. That is what has struck me the most. We will be in a better place when we come out of this pandemic and we will rebound quickly,” he adds.
“People have developed take out and home delivery options because of Covid and they will stay with us.”
While no one knows exactly when the pandemic will start to ease Mr Ahern believes it will be a number of years before large scale events will take place in person.
“I think we will continue to embrace technology. We will have restrictions in 2021 and I have no doubt that we will be moving from one level to another of the Living with Covid plan for the next 12 to 18 months.”
However Mr Ahern added that while Zoom and Teams meeting have proven very effective during the pandemic, he believes that there will be a return to face to face and personal meetings in the next 12 to 18 months.
However the Chamber President is confident that business will recover and added that we all have a role in ensuring that this happens.
“For all of us that live and work in Kilkenny it is down to us to support local business so that younger generations will be able to make that choice.
“There are different ways in which we can do this - by shopping local or clicking locally and supporting businesses online. Also the Chamber of Commerce have gift vouchers for sale which can be used in over 150 stores, hotels and restaurants.
“These vouchers are a fantastic way of keeping money circulating in our local economy and they are available to buy on our website www.kilkennychamber.ie
“Everyone has a favourite shop or restaurant or bar. Now is the time to buy a voucher and help them to get through the next 12 months or so and it also means that people have something to look forward to and enjoy.
“Kilkenny people are brilliant brand ambassadors and we should all be so proud of our city and all its awards and do our best to promote it.
“Kilkenny is the friendliest, funniest, tastiest and tidiest city in Ireland.”
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