Ireland tourism: Are Dublin hotel prices turning tourists off?

By Shane Harrison
BBC News NI Dublin Correspondent

  • Published
The Liffey River in DublinImage source, Warchi/ Getty Images

This summer has seen persistent criticism about the high cost of hotel rooms in the Republic of Ireland, especially Dublin.

Sitting in his garden in Camlough in south Armagh, tablet in hand, Damian McCullough is looking at Dublin hotel prices.

He wants to see how much they've changed since he was quoted £1,400 for a weekend built around the recent Eagles concert.

His answer - they haven't changed much.

"At those costs I would consider going to Spain," he said.

Image caption,
Damian McCullough said he struggled to find reasonably-priced accommodation in Dublin

"I mean I can get four nights in Salou for £300 full board. So, why would I go to Dublin and give crazy money?

"It's just crazy. I can't figure it out, I don't know why they're doing it."

Some customers believe they are doing to make up for lost Covid-business in just one year.

But the representative body - the Irish Hotels Federation - has denied that.

Image caption,
Denyse Campbell from the Irish Hotels Federation said value for money could be found if you book early

It said there was a huge pent-up demand for rooms and a lack of supply, not least because 15% of availability is reserved for government contracts including accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.

Denyse Campbell, the federation's president said: "What we would say to people is that if they are coming to Dublin, if they book in advance there's great value to be had.

"And if people booked directly with the hotels themselves to get the best deal."

The Republic's government reduced the VAT rate to 9% from 13.5% for the hospitality sector to encourage a post-Covid recovery.

'Price-gouging'

But in Sligo, in the west of Ireland, the owner of the award-winning restaurant An Eala Bhán Anthony Gray said the coalition government may be tempted to increase the tax for the entire sector in the upcoming budget because of what he believes is the irresponsible behaviour of Dublin hotels.

"We are offering value for money," he said.

"But in Dublin because of the price-gouging that is going on in the hotels, it's going to impact on us because we all tarred with the one brush.

Image caption,
Sligo restaurant owner Anthony Gray is worried about a potential rise in the VAT rate

"In my opinion the government need to look at it with a common sense approach and split the VAT rate for restaurants versus hotels.

"If the hotels are price-gouging it needs to stop because it's absolutely ridiculous."

Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Leo Varadkar said there were genuine reasons as to why accommodation costs were 18% higher this year compared to 2021.

They include increased energy and labour costs as well as massive demand.

But he admitted there was also evidence of 'Rip-Off Ireland'.

"There are some examples of some hotels engaging in price-gouging," he said.

"Just because you can sell the last room for €600 doesn't mean you should. We've made that very clear to them.

"But I think in the round, people can find good value.

"And I'd absolutely encourage people from the north to visit the south and to use Dublin Airport and indeed vice versa. I love to visit the north and hope to get the chance over the summer to do so again."

While Dublin remains a popular tourist destination, those in the industry are aware that the city is developing an unwanted reputation.

Business may well be good this summer, but with a recession just around the corner there must be a concern about future prospects as would-be customers with long memories keep a closer eye on their own finances.