A STUDY by the consumer watchdog has confirmed that hotels hike their prices during festival time -- with some more than doubling room prices on big occasions.
The survey of 20 hotels in Cork and Wexford showed that some consumers were charged as much as 146pc more when festivals were taking place -- despite an overall drop in room rates over the past three years.
The survey was conducted by the Consumers' Association of Ireland (CAI) during and after last year's Cork Jazz Festival and the Wexford Opera Festival, and surveyed the cost of a room for two adults, including breakfast.
The biggest offender was the Gresham Metropole in Cork, followed by Jurys Inn in the same city and Whites Hotel in Wexford.
The Gresham Metropole charged €219 per room during the jazz festival.However, the same room cost €89 just days before and after the festivities.
Rates at Jurys Inn also stood at €89 before the festival, which takes place at the end of October, but shot up to €149 during the event.
In Wexford, Whites Hotel was charging €195 a room during the opera but €89 just days before and €139 after.
General manager of Whites, Peter Wilson, defended the increase which, he said, was based on supply and demand.
"There may be higher rates at certain times but the survey didn't highlight offers during the festival," he said.
"There are a lot of factors when setting prices, including supply and demand. That is the case in many industries, including airlines."
The general managers of Cork's Gresham Metropole and Jurys Inn did not return calls to this newspaper yesterday.
According to the research, guesthouses and B&Bs in Cork and Wexford also hiked up prices during the celebrations.
Dermot Jewell, chief executive of the CAI, said the hotels' supply and demand argument was just not acceptable.
"This is a general practice, and while supply and demand is an element, this is pure and simple price gouging because people must stay in a particular area," he said.