Dungarvan had to close its superloo in 2012 as the local authority could not afford to sustain a €9 subsidy for every time a 50 cents user flushed the toilet.
However, Waterford City and County Council has called on businesses to make toilet facilities available.
The alternative, said senior executive for economic development Richie Walsh, was for the council to provide costly new amenities.
Independent councillor Séamus O’Donnell told a Dungarvan-Lismore municipal district meeting that not having a public toilet impacted negatively on tourism.
The now-defunct town council had demolished a toilet block in 2000, and replaced it with an automated ‘superloo’ on a 20-year lease. However, the new amenity was removed after it was considered underused and costing about €30,000 to maintain.
The contract termination had cost the council €100,000. Since then, the town had no on-street toilet.
Mr Walsh advised that “the commercial and private sector must take some responsibility”.
He said a liaison group established since the local council’s abolition had been tasked with addressing such issues.
He suggested “a simple model for a town of Dungarvan’s size would stipulate the opening up of commercial premises to the public for local economic gain — that means hotels, bars and restaurants almost welcoming people in to use their facilities”.
Mr O’Donnell said some businesses might have reservations but, as a publican, he personally did not mind.
Fine Gael councillor Damien Geoghegan said he hoped businesses would see “the larger picture” by which a visitor to the toilet might later return to make a purchase in the premises.
However, Jenny Beresford, business development manager at Dungarvan and Waterford Chamber and at Dungarvan Tourist Office, said the councillors had misjudged the situation.
“I don’t think it’s really an issue. Our business community already see that when someone comes in to uses the toilet, they are a potential customer. I have never known of a service provider to refuse someone toilet access,” she said.
She said there are already four well-maintained free ‘public’ toilets serving the town, namely the library, Garvey’s supermarket, Dungarvan shopping centre and Waterford Council’s own civic offices.