Tourist towns need a Government bailout because of the presence of so many Ukrainians, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation has said.
Since Russia’s invasion of their country, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have moved to Ireland and many are being accommodated in hotels in tourist towns.
The policy has boosted the income of hotels - many of whom struggle to fill vacancies during the quieter winter months - but the loss of paying tourists in the summer months has negatively impacted other businesses.
A Government memo estimates the tourism sector has taken a €1.1 billion hit and the issue is due to be discussed by the Cabinet this week.
“It’s the broader tourism industry and the broader tourism economy that I’d be concerned about,” Irish Tourism Industry Confederation CEO Eoghan O’Mara Walsh told Newstalk Breakfast.
“And all the downstream tourism businesses - the likes of attractions, tourist retail offerings, pubs, restaurants, cultural experiences.
“They’re going to miss out on the tourism dollar and that’s what’s of great concern.
“So, for every euro spent on accommodation, €2.50 is spent on ancillary tourism services.
“Obviously, that €2.50 is not going to be spent this year in lots and lots of tourist towns and that’s a great concern.”
Mr O’Mara Walsh said the sector is “very worried” and said the Government should help those businesses that have lost revenue.
“There’s going to need to be some sort of mitigation fund for all those downstream tourism businesses that are losing out on the tourism dollar,” he said.
“They only, traditionally, have the summer months and they’re not going to have a summer this year.”
He said the Government needs to be more innovative in its approach to the problem.
“We’re concerned it’s becoming a long-term solution,” he said.
“The Government has got to be much more creative and much more extensive in terms of its approach to housing, in terms of modular housing, unused buildings, vacant dwellings and so on.”
As of February, some 75,000 Ukrainians had arrived in Ireland since the conflict began.
Main image: Ukrainian families crosses through the border as first migrants from Ukraine flee the Russian invasion and enter border town of Medyka, Poland on February 24, 2022. (Photo by Dominika Zarzycka/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa USA/Alamy Live News