CLARE County Council estimates there are 3,207 beneficiaries of temporary protection, most of which are believed to be Ukrainian refugees, currently accommodated in 30 hotels, hostels and self-catering accommodation across 14 local settlements.
The council is coordinating local response services across the county and the matching of Ukrainian people displaced as a result of the war to hosted accommodation.
Councillors were told at a meeting on Monday this is being done through the repurposed Community Response Forum, with meetings at a county level being held on a bi-weekly basis and local meetings in Shannon, Ennis, Kilkee and Lisdoonvarna.
Prior to the war in Ukraine, it was widely recognised that Clare was already lacking available bed nights, considering the level of product available in the county.
A Clare Visitor Survey of domestic and international visitors facilitated by the council between late April and September found high satisfaction levels, but 81% of overseas tourists had to travel by car to the Banner County.
Councillor Cillian Murphy asked the council to seek figures from the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) about the quantity of hotel bedrooms that are currently contracted to them in Clare for the next three, six and their expectation for the next 12 months.
He requested discussions with tourism agencies to establish the impact of the dramatic reduction of serviced accommodation across the county and to deliver a marketing strategy for 2023 to address this.
Stressing there has been many positive outcomes for the provision of extra services for Ukrainians and local residents, Councillor Murphy said he doesn’t have any issue with this humanitarian response as Kilkee and Clare have welcomed refugees with open arms.
However, he pointed out tourism towns like Kilkee rely very heavily on the passing trade that is delivered by serviced overnight accommodation providers.
This has been seriously negatively impacted by the sheer volume of overnight beds that have been taken out of circulation.
“The real impact is on the shoulder seasons where we have seen a very noticeable deficit of ‘walking around visitors’ with a serious knock-on effect on our ancillary tourism businesses,” he said.
The Community Response Forum represents a range of agencies, NGOs, community groups and elected representatives all working together to sustain communities and meet the needs of our visitors.
The team in Clare County Council continues to receive updates and monitor the numbers arriving into the county, however approximate this is given the on-going movement of people – a natural activity in any circumstance.
The council has placed families into 20 hosted accommodation solutions and is currently focused on the existing offers of hosted accommodation.