Almost one quarter of all hotel rooms are being used for humanitarian purposes, and if this continues there will be higher rates and job losses next summer, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

24% of hotel rooms, about 15,000 of the total of 60,000, are being used by the Government to house refugees from Ukraine and asylum seekers.

If this rose to 30%, it would deliver a €1bn hit in lost earnings to the sector next season, Eoghan O'Mara Walsh of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) warned the Joint Committee on Tourism.

"We would strongly urge Government to come up with a much more balanced approach to housing refugees and asylum seekers", he said.

"We're gonna have a real, real problem next summer" which will "have a dramatically dangerous impact on the well-being of lots of down-stream tourism businesses", Mr O'Mara Walsh cautioned.

These include restaurants, bars and cultural attractions, "the Killarneys of this world", he added.

"If you don't have the bed stock for tourism you won't have tourism activity, and that will mean livelihoods being lost next year", Mr O'Mara Walsh told the committee.

Committee members expressed concern at the spikes in rates for rooms, particularly around big events in Dublin.

The best way to moderate price is competition, Mr O'Mara Walsh said, and the bed-stock "needs to be brought back into the tourism economy", which he pointed out is "the largest indigenous industry we have and the biggest regional employer".

Denyse Campbell, President of the Irish Hotels Federation, insisted that "spike prices on some nights" are not the norm.

Dublin offers "good value for a very high quality product" which is "highly weighted towards the four- and five-star high-spending market", she said.

The capital saw its rates increase by 18% since 2019, "around the same level as Lisbon and London at 16%", and this was in the face of "eye-watering" cost increases, she noted.

Room rates in Paris rose by more than a third over the same period, while those in Rome climbed 29%.