WITH unnecessary travel into and out of the country – especially for holidays – being actively discouraged at the moment. and for the foreseeable future, Fáilte Ireland has announced what it termed ‘a heavyweight investment’ in domestic tourism marketing. After salvaging part of the summer season in 2020 when the Covid-19 virus had been temporarily suppressed at the end of June, the tourism industry in coastal areas such as West Cork did as well as it could have under the circumstances, albeit without many international visitors and with the ‘wet pubs’ remaining closed until the third week of September.
After the first lockdown and the gradual easing of restrictions, Irish people were glad to be able to rediscover ‘staycations’ and make the best of what they could do, and this was helped by a good summer, weatherwise. They were happy to do this in the hope that they would have the choice of going abroad again in 2021 because the virus should be defeated by then.
Whether this will be possible or not is a moot point as the suppression of Covid-19 and its mutations is taking a lot longer than people expected and the roll-out of the vaccines probably won’t be widespread enough by the summer. So a lot of people are planning on another ‘staycation’ summer and there have been reports of strong demand for accommodation in coastal areas.
Dublin and other cities missed out last year because a lot of their tourism tends to come from international visitors, not many of whom were able to visit Ireland last year. Fáilte Ireland’s €55million Tourism Business Continuity Scheme, announced at its ‘Survive to Thrive’ industry event earlier this month, is a welcome boost especially as the domestic market – urban and rural – has also missed out on the lucrative autumn and spring breaks business since last summer.
The scheme will support those tourism businesses that were not eligible for the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme payment or previous Fáilte Ireland continuity grant schemes. But, unfortunately, it will probably be June at least before the season can safely get under way.