Tourism industry warns of potential €1bn cost if refugee numbers in hotels and B&Bs rise

Industry will call on the Government to reduce to 12-15% the proportion of tourism accommodation being used to house refugees from Ukraine and elsewhere

The tourism sector could sustain losses of up to €1 billion if the Government uses even more tourism accommodation to house further influxes of refugees from Ukraine and other countries, an industry report published later this week will warn.

The cost includes loss of business for local restaurants and visitor attractions.

The report by the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (Itic) will say the Republic is “an outlier” in Europe in the depth of its reliance on tourism beds for refugees, and warns the reduced capacity for tourists is damaging the industry.

In its report, Irish Tourism: Fallout from Ukraine Conflict, Itic will call upon the Government to cut by at least one-third the number of tourism beds used for refugees. Currently, it says, almost 22 per cent of tourism accommodation is used by the State for refugees from Ukraine and elsewhere. Itic wants this cut to 12-15 per cent, which it says would be the industry playing a “proportionate role in alleviating the crisis”.


The Republic has accepted about 57,000 Ukrainian refugees so far this year, according to official figures, although that is expected to rise towards 70,000 over the winter. About 46,000 of the intake are being accommodated by the State, and a further 7,000 in rooms pledged in private Irish homes. The remainder are staying with friends and family here.

Figures supplied to Itic by the Government suggest 76 per cent of all Ukrainian refugees here are being accommodated in tourist facilities. About 18,000 are in hotel rooms and 16,000 in other forms of tourist accommodation, such as B&Bs. As well as Ukrainian refugees, a further 17,000 from other countries are also in State-provided accommodation.

About 15,000 mostly mid-range hotel rooms are being used by the State to house refugees from all nations. Industry sources say the Government typically offers hoteliers about €125 per room per night outside of Dublin and about €135 per night in the capital. This is on a single occupancy basis and includes the provision of three meals. An extra €10 per night is paid if a child stays in the room with the adult, while approximately €25 extra is paid for an extra adult.

Overall about 80 per cent of refugees are being put up in facilities outside of Dublin. While close to 22 per cent of all tourism accommodation is in use by refugees, this rises to 25 per cent when the capital is excluded.

Itic warns that if total refugee numbers rise to 90,000, as some estimates suggest, then up to 30 per cent of tourism beds could be out of circulation unless the Government procures other options.

“This would have serious negative impacts on tourist visits, with the loss of up to €1 billion in earnings, hundreds of job losses in the broader hospitality and supply sectors, severely damage Ireland’s competitiveness and threaten the sustainability of many businesses in the sector,” it says.

Itic’s report will call upon the Department of the Taoiseach to lead a new State committee to address the refugee accommodation crisis. It also calls for a two-year plan from the Government, as well as a commitment to “the 12-15 per cent rule” as a maximum proportion of tourism beds to be used.

Itic also wants a State-financed business continuity fund to make payments to small enterprises in the sector, such as local restaurants and attractions, that suffer following a reduction of tourist numbers in their locality due to capacity being removed to take care of refugees.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times