A report released today (27 August 2008) has called for the compulsory licensing and a quality grading scale for bed and breakfasts in Ireland. The report was commissioned by the Town and Country Homes Association which has over 60% of the Bord Fáilte registered Bed and Breakfasts in Ireland.

Currently the Bord Fáilte approval for Bed and Breakfasts in Ireland is a voluntary process and costs proprietors in the region of €200 annually for the shamrock sign which signifies Bord Fáilte approval. It is argued that compulsory licensing would increase consumer confidence in Bed and Breakfasts and would ultimately award higher quality properties and penalise those of a lower quality.

“Up to 5,000 unapproved B&Bs are currently allowed to operate without any health and safety standards, undermining over 2,600 registered B&Bs who pay to be inspected. In all other sectors of accommodation in Ireland you must register and be graded for quality and standards – so why not in B&Bs?” – Kate Burns

The B&B sector in Ireland is estimated at contributing €300 million to the economy annually. This suggested licensing comes with the explosion of low cost hotel accommodation in Ireland alongside the competition from unregistered B&Bs. Tourism revenue dropped during 2008 for the first time in 4 years. This drop combined with the oversupply in hotel rooms has created further difficulty for Bed and Breakfasts in Ireland.

“After a decade of strong growth, the tourism industry is now falling victim to the global economic downturn and an unfavorably strong Euro, leaving a “mismatch” between supply and demand for hotel accommodation that will exacerbate problems for the wider economy, the author of the research report” – Rossa White