Vendors at a famous seaside resort have warned the government’s refugee policy has done more damage to the local tourism economy than the Covid-19 pandemic.
he East Cork town of Youghal – one of Ireland’s famous old Victorian beach destinations – is running out of local hotel bed capacity.
Two local hotels have been fully booked by the government to provide temporary shelter for Ukrainian refugees. Holiday homes are also being secured locally to cater for the large number of refugees fleeing the conflict.
President of Youghal’s Chamber of Tourism and Development, Pádraig Hennessy, warned that there was “a lack of common thinking” when it came to the government’s approach to the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We absolutely recognize the need to provide shelter for these poor Ukrainian people fleeing a terrible conflict,” he said.
“Everyone supports Ireland’s humanitarian aid. That is not the point here. These people are very welcome in Youghal and the local people have done everything to support them and make them feel welcome.”
But Mr Hennessy – who runs the famous Clancy’s Bar overlooking Youghal beach – said it was incredible that the government would tell the east Cork city to focus on developing tourism rather than industry and then withdraw their strategic hotel capacity entirely.
“The reality is that this has done more damage to the local tourism economy than the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Youghal tourism officials said it was the sheer scale of local government takeover of hotels that caused the problem.
“If it was 10 or 20 percent of local hotel bed capacity secured for Ukrainian refugees, no problem,” said a cafe owner in Youghal.
“But almost 100 pieces? Did no one in government realize that this would cause a problem?
“This is a tourist city – how on earth can you operate as a tourism destination if you don’t have hotel capacity?
Cork East TD Pat Buckley said he has concerns about the suitability of hotel accommodation for refugees beyond a short-term basis.
“Youghal is dependent on tourism and has invested heavily in recent years,” Buckley said. “That will certainly have a massive impact this year. I’m not sure the government thought of that.”
Mr Hennessy runs Clancy’s Bar – formerly known as the Railway Bar, which was adjacent to the old Great Southern & Western Railway Station – as a popular lounge and restaurant.
“We’re seeing a really good summer here at Clancy’s in terms of trade,” he said.
“But other businesses in the city aren’t so lucky because of the hotel woes — they depend on the perks of tourists staying overnight, and the total lack of hotel beds is a big problem for them.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/tourism-town-criticises-refugee-housing-strategy-as-local-hotels-are-fully-booked-out-41847140.html The tourism city has criticized the strategy for housing refugees as local hotels are fully booked