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Number of refugees in hotels is “detriment” to tourism says ITIC

Under serious pressure

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) has said that “limited tourism accommodation supply” has posed a significant threat to the industry’s recovery next year, and that the number of refugees being kept in hotels is a “detriment” to the sector.

In a statement this week, Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, CEO of the representative group, expressed “significant concern” that the supply of tourism beds – or lack thereof – would impact on the financial recovery of the sector.

“We now know from the Department of Children that 23%, or nearly 1 in 4 bedrooms, of tourism accommodation is occupied by Ukrainian refugees or asylum seekers and this number seems to be growing as each week goes by,” he said.

“While hotels and guesthouses are part of the solution to accommodate refugees, they cannot be the only solution. If this level of tourism accommodation stock is not available next year for international visitors it will have an enormous knock-on effect for the broader tourism economy and regional employment in particular.”

The group urged a more “creative solution” to the problem, including modular housing, holiday homes, state buildings, and vacant dwellings.

Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, Chairperson of ITIC, added that the level of refugee accommodation in the tourism sector was a “detriment” to the overall industry.

“The tourism industry cannot be asked, to its own detriment, to be the primary provider of accommodation.”

In addition to this, the group expressed “significant concern” regarding the inflation and cost of living crisis, saying that energy bills for many hotels and restaurants had jumped to “unsustainable and unprecedented levels,” with profit margins coming under “serious pressure.”

Many small and medium businesses have been hit with significant energy bills in recent weeks, with one family-run supermarket in Co. Clare receiving an electricity bill for almost €21,000 from Bord Gáis, compared to their bill of €6,500 at the same time last year.

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