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Refugees in tourist beds has “exacerbated” shortage, says report

The large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers in Irish tourist beds have “exacerbated” a pre-existing industry shortage, a report released today has claimed.

The document by the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, which was carried out by economist Jim Power, says that the government “will have to intervene with a range of policy measures to stimulate developments” within the tourism sector.

“It was acknowledged prior to Covid-19 that there was a significant shortage of tourism
accommodation as per numerous Fáilte Ireland reports,” the report reads.

“This has now been exacerbated by Government’s over-reliance on tourism accommodation to house Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers.”

The document adds that the incentive for hotels to operate their normal business is “not compelling,” and that many hoteliers may choose not to return to their old business.

“In relation to the hotels that are currently being used for refugee purposes, the incentive for hoteliers to go back to being a hotel are not compelling,” it says.

“Hoteliers are guaranteed a certain income and virtually 100 per cent occupancy rates, and staffing requirements are relatively low. The danger is that many of the hotels being used to accommodate refugees may never return to the hotel stock.”

The document says that the government needs to implement measures “as a matter of priority” to “preserve” Irish tourism.

“In the context of the lack of supply of accommodation due to a combination of the refugee
crisis and the already pre-existing shortage of accommodation, measures need to be
introduced as a matter of priority to preserve the national and regional economic activity
and employment that results from tourism activity,” it says.

In May of this year, a secret Government memo revealed that the Irish economy would take a €1.1bn hit due to a lack of hotel accommodation over the summer, as the government continued to place refugees and asylum seekers in hospitality settings.

According to the memo, the lack of tourist beds available would lead to less visitors spending money on attractions, activities and local businesses throughout the country.

According to Fáilte Ireland, for every €1 spent on accommodation, each tourist spends a further €2.50 in the local economy.

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