Over 50% of Donegal tourist beds being used to accommodate victims of Ukraine war and asylum seekers

Over 50 per cent of Donegal tourism beds are contracted to provide shelter to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine and asylum seekers.

Eoghan O'Mara Walsh, Chief Executive of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, has said the percentage of beds being used in Donegal for this purpose is twice the 26 county rate.

“In County Kerry more than 35% of beds are currently contracted. In Donegal the figure is more than 50%. Our central point is that this is the current situation.

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"It is winter in Ukraine and the bombings continue, it is a cold, harsh winter and refugees will continue to come, as will international asylum seekers,” Mr. O’Mara Walsh told the Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media.

Refugees fleeing conflict make their way to the Krakovets border crossing with Poland on March 09, 2022 in Krakovets, Ukraine. More than a million people have fled Ukraine following Russia's large-scale assault on the country, with hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians passing through Lviv on their way to Poland. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

He said 24% of beds nationally are contracted to the Government and there is concern there may be a shortage for tourists next year.

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“Unless there is a whole-of-government approach and a real, proper comprehensive plan in this regard, the danger is that more and more tourism beds will be sucked into the system and there will be ever fewer tourism beds available for the tourism economy.

"That has consequences which we have talked about. In the summer next year if there is not a tourism season in Killarney, or Westport or in Donegal or wherever, that impacts on the local economy, on livelihoods and so on.

“There will be great dissatisfaction. It is an important issue. It is difficult to articulate and talk about because we want to be as generous and welcoming as possible to these people,” he remarked.