THE Shannon College of Hotel Management has an economic impact of over €5 million per annum, its head Dr Phillip J Smyth told a meeting of Shannon Municipal District councillors on Tuesday.
The meeting was held at the College and at its outset the members heard a presentation from Dr Smyth, which was somewhat disrupted because of a cyber attack on NUI Galway, of which the college is a part.
Dr Smyth said that it is now quite difficult to get housing for its approximately 400 students.
“The biggest problem we have is accommodation,” he said.
Dr Smyth said that a mail shot is going out throughout the Municipal District, looking for expressions of interest in housing students.
Explaining some of the college’s history, he said that when it was being established by Dr Brendan O’Regan, approaches were made to Government for funding.
However Dr Smyth said the Government’s position was that “there were not jobs for 12 trained hotel managers in Ireland”.
However Dr O’Regan pressed ahead, and soon afterwards the college was providing leaders in the hospitality sector, including three women who founded hotel empires.
He said that nowadays the courses at the college are very practically focused.
“There is a very strong emphasis on practical training and a lot of placements.”
At the moment he said there are around 400 students and 40 staff, while there are plans to join the two main buildings on the site with a new development, which would face towards the airport.
Dr Smyth said that Covid had been “a huge challenge” to the College and that it can be “very difficult” to sell the idea of careers in hospitality to young people.
He said that the hospitality sector didn’t come out of Covid very well, with a focus on people leaving the industry and difficulties within it, and that the number of applications to the CAO for places at the college dipped, but they have been rising once again.
Director of Services with Clare County Council Liam Conneally said that the extent of the importance of Shannon College of Hotel Management is “probably not recognised as much as it could or should be”.
He said that the County Council would be happy to provide what assistance it can with the College’s plans to expand.
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.