A multi-million Euro hotel should be included in Cork County Council’s master plan for Cobh, Councillors have claimed.
The move comes as the Island is struggling to keep pace with its growing popularity, with the number of tourists exceeding the number of hotel rooms available.
With increased liner traffic and large numbers expected to visit Spike Island following their recent win at the World Tourism Awards, there is growing concern that travellers will have nowhere to sleep.
Spike Island had predicted 31,000 visitors last year but instead welcomed 46,000 and are expecting a further growth of 25% this year.
Island manager John Crotty said “bed nights are crucial to see the Island develop.”
He said Ireland’s Alcatraz has been losing out to tourists, as some tour companies take their business elsewhere, due to the limited availability of overnight accommodation.
According to a Cobh tourism source, a local hotel was turning away up to 40 bookings a night at the height of the tourist season in 2017.
Cllr Kieran McCarthy told Monday’s sitting of the Cobh Municipal District, the harbour town does not have enough hotel rooms in its current inventory to cope with level of growth in the tourism sector.
He said he had a developer willing to construct a 200 bed facility on the Great Island, but there was no area zoned for such a facility in the County’s Local Area Plan 2017.
The independent Cllr urged the authority to set aside a portion of land from its 57 acre land-bank at Newtown village, for the future development of a new hotel in Cobh.
He said if extra capacity was not found tourism on the island is unlikely to grow at current levels.
“Out of a population of 12,800 we have a total of 250 beds if you include the two hotels and the B&B’s put together.”
“If you compare that to Kinsale a population of 5,200, they have 20 hotels and including their B&B’s they have 2,500 beds.”
“For every tourist that comes to Cobh there is probably ten that won’t come because of lack of accommodation.” Cllr McCarthy commented.
Independent Cllr Diarmaid O’Cadhla said he had his reservations regarding the plan as he would favour housing for the site over a hotel.
Labour Cllr Cathal Rasmussen said he supported Cllr McCarthy’s proposal in general but it must not interfere with plans already for the Newtown site.
“We already have 35 acres allocated to housing, 5 acres for a sports club and 5 acres for allotments. We need to see how the whole thing fits into the master plan for the area.”
While Fine Gael Cllr Sinead Shepard said “It’s something we need to take seriously. It’s something we need to act on as a municipal, to ensure Cobh is the tourist town we wish it to be.”
Cork County Council say they are working on identifying sites that maybe suitable for a possible hotel.