Tourism Faces Hotel Shortage

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin has been warned by her officials that there is growing concern for the 2023 tourism season, given the numbers of Ukrainian refugees in tourist accommodation.

She has also been told that the "non-availability" of tourist accommodation taken up by refugees is disproportionately affecting some towns and counties, is costing hundreds of millions of euros to the wider non-accommodation economy, and is leading to hotel pricing issues, especially in Dublin.

"The reputational risk already arising from Ireland cancelling contracts with tour operators could cost Ireland business for several years,"  the minister was told in a background briefing.

"In addition, rural towns and businesses will struggle to survive, and when a hotel returns to accommodation use, it takes longer to re-establish the hotel, and local services will already be diminished. When accommodation is returned to the tourism sector, it will also require refurbishment, which takes several months."

Hotels are not suitable for families in the medium term, and it is "vital" that the Government moves to alternative accommodation solutions, Ms Martin was advised in documents released  under Freedom of Information. 

As of October 22, the International Protection Procurement Services (IPPS) had contracted 23,456 hotel bed spaces, or 15.27% of the 153,625 total. When Dublin was excluded, the percentage of total bed spaces in use by IPPS rose to almost 18%.

In Co Clare, 30% of bed spaces registered with Fáilte Ireland are contracted by the Government now. Towns including Lisdoonvarna, Ennistymon and Youghal are disproportionately impacted by the unavailability of accommodation, and the wider economy is affected. 

The cost of 15,000 unavailable bed spaces in "non-accommodation opportunity" is up to €325 million, according to an analysis provided by Failte Ireland to the Department.

"If the unavailable bedspaces increase to 20,000, then €433m is lost," according to  Failte Ireland.

"On a positive note, around half of the 7,100 Ukrainians now in employment in Ireland have taken up jobs in hotels, bars and restaurants, some working multiple jobs," the minister has been told.