Friday 15 December 2017

Room shortage warning as hotel plan is backed

Temple Bar is a major draw for tourists to Dublin
Temple Bar is a major draw for tourists to Dublin

Gordon Deegan

Fáilte Ireland has warned that the acute shortage of hotel bedrooms in Dublin poses a major threat to the expansion of the tourism sector in the capital.

The State agency has sounded the warning in a submission to Dublin City Council offering its support for a new €40m 234-bedroom hotel for the Liberties by the O'Sullivan family owned Hodson Bay Group.

Last year, An Bord Pleanála refused planning permission for a larger 263-bedroom hotel by the group on the Coombe near St Patrick's Cathedral.

However, the council has now given the go-ahead for a hotel reduced in height and scale on the same site, in spite of opposition from local residents.

The hotel is the group's first foray into the booming Dublin hotel market with Fáilte Ireland stating that the capital "is experiencing unprecedented occupancy rates at over 94pc".

In a submission supporting the plan, the agency told the council the current demand exceeds the supply and inevitably, "prices are inflated giving the message internationally that Dublin is not a competitive destination".

Fáilte Ireland's Mary Stack said in the submission "the additional tourism for Dublin City is to be welcomed, however, there is a major threat to its future because of the acute shortage of hotel bedrooms in the city centre".

The city council gave the new plan the go-ahead after its planner stated that the hotel "would contribute to the revitalisation of the area".

The previous plan failed after An Taisce appealed the City Council decision to An Bord Pleanála. An Taisce did not oppose the new plan.

Yesterday, Hodson Group chairman, John O'Sullivan welcomed the Council's decision.

"As far as Bord Pleanála refusals go, the refusal we got for the previous proposal last year was a good refusal in that it specified the directions we needed to take in order to address the board's concerns," he said.

He added that "we have followed that to the letter and we are hopeful that if the City Council decision is appealed to An Bord Pleanála that there won't be any issues at the board".

Mr O'Sullivan said that the group has been looking to enter the Dublin market for a long time.

"Over the years, it was always difficult to make commercial sense as the opportunities were based on their real estate value rather than what they could achieve as hotels and we are hoteliers with a long-term view of the business," he said.

Irish Independent

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