THE owners of the Corrib Great Southern Hotel in Galway have applied to have the site used as student accommodation three years after its closure.

The hotel, on the old Dublin Road, will now be used for higher-educational purposes and research ventures. The development comes as a large number of hotels prepare to close for the winter because of the current crisis in the hotel industry.

Developer Gerry Barrett, who also owns the G Hotel in Galway, closed the Great Southern in 2007, and the contents of the hotel’s bar, restaurant and bedrooms were sold a month later in an auction. The site is currently owned by Edward Holdings.

According to a company submission to Galway City Council, “It would be our intention in preparing a plan for the development of the site for higher-educational use and research and development use that part of the site would also be developed for student accommodation.”

The president of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) Paul Gallagher said the change of use was unsurprising. “It has been a difficult year in the hotel industry on the back of what have been two difficult years already,” he said.

Gallagher said more hotels would close for the winter as trading continued to drop, and may not be able to open come next year. “There are more hotels than ever before closing for the winter. While a number of hotels did this before, there are more doing it this year than before. The problem will arise when they go to open in February and March and they find they cannot go ahead with the reopening,” he said.

“It will be difficult to get things back off the ground, and it is then that the majority of the issues will show themselves. After a tough budget this December, it is going to be even more difficult. The domestic market is massively down, while we are also down one million British visitors.”

Hotelier Brian McEniff, who owns the Skylon in Dublin and the Yeats Country Hotel in Sligo, has already warned he might have to close one or two of his premises for the winter due to the tough economic climate.