A committee of the Oireachtas has heard that using accommodation facilities for displaced Ukrainian citizens seeking international protection could result in non-accommodation tourism service providers losing more than 1.1 billion euros in revenue this year, reports RTE.
According to a preliminary statement issued by Felt Ireland to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media, almost a third of all tourism stock recorded outside Dublin is now contracted to the state.
In a written statement distributed to committee members ahead of the hearing, Paul Kelly, chief executive of Fáilte Ireland, said the lack of availability of tourist beds meant that activity providers, tourist attractions and many people in the affected areas were putting their business of survival at a “put at significant risk”.
He says the lost revenue will be a real loss as inbound agents have said many visitors who want to come to Ireland are now booking in other countries because they cannot find accommodation in Ireland.
He said the region “desperately” needed more stock of tourist accommodation to return to tourism as quickly as possible.
“In addition to the short-term business loss and the long-term consequences for the quality of some rural tourism destinations, this situation also creates conditions that facilitate pricing practices that put Ireland’s long-term reputation at risk,” Mr Kelly writes, reports RTE.
Mr Kelly also warns that the lack of rental car availability in the summer season is another challenge for rural tourism, with fleet levels likely to remain well below the level required to meet demand this summer.
“Independent analysis indicates that the discontinuation of the repayment of VAT on VRT Scheme in 2019 resulted in increased costs for car rental providers and their customers ranging from €50 to €250 per week,” he claims, reports RTE.
“This is acting as a significant commercial disincentive to restocking the seasonal fleet and leading to high peak season prices for those who can secure a hire car and a loss of potential visitors simply because some cannot secure a hire car,” he added, reports RTE.
However, overall Mr Kelly says there is optimism that the upcoming summer tourist season will be strong.
The chief executive of the Confederation of the Irish Tourism Industry said the tourism sector should play its part in the humanitarian response to refugees, but should not be the main provider of accommodation.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Eoghan O’Mara Walsh said the current situation, which sees hotels and B&B accommodation being used for refugee accommodation, is having a very negative impact on other tourism businesses.
Mr O’Mara Walsh said ‘downstream’ tourism businesses, such as attractions, restaurants, shops and cafes, were hurting and losing ‘the tourism dollars’.
“This is of great concern. You will unfortunately be facing a situation this summer, where tourism towns up and down the length and breadth of the country will have a shortage of tourism beds and therefore there will be very little tourism activity. The accommodation providers will be okay because they will get remuneration from the government of a certain level. But the downstream tourism businesses will be the ones that suffer,” he said, reports RTE.
O’Mara Walsh said that around 12-15% of bedrooms should be allocated to refugees and asylum seekers, but the government needed to be more understanding in terms of other types of accommodation.
The onus is on the government to be more constructive and balanced, he said.
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