WITH the May bank holiday over us, and the next one just a few weeks away, this period between the two is when businesses start to get a real feel for what the summer may look like.
After two years of on-off holidays, and a very cautious public, it’s heartening to note that the early predictions around West Cork are that the next few months could possibly see a return to pre-pandemic levels of visitors.
Most Irish people seem to be heading for the airport as soon as they can afford to, of course, so it’s unlikely they will comprise the majority of visitors to West Cork, as they have done over the past two summers.
But, thankfully, indications are that the Americans, Italians, Germans, French and Dutch holidaymakers, for starters, have already begun to arrive on our shores – no doubt encouraged by the news that our society is pretty much back to normal now, albeit for the advice to continue mask-wearing in busy indoor settings.
Still, donning a mask on occasion in a museum or busy shop is hardly a high price to pay, given the restrictions pretty much every country around the globe has had to endure up to recent months.
Indeed, several Asian countries are finding themselves returning to mask-wearing regulations, due to lower levels of vaccination than in most European countries, and the resurgence of the virus as a result.
But let us not dwell on the negative: the good news is that, for now, things really look to be shaping up to be a busy summer welcoming back old friends and relations from abroad, in West Cork.
As if to herald the arrival of our much-missed tourist population, our maritime friends were also out in force last weekend – with several sightings of frolicking dolphins, whales and even basking sharks, close to the coast.
Whale-watching tours are fast becoming synonymous with a trip to West Cork, such is the prevalence of sea life in this region of largely unspoilt waters.
There is nothing more delightful than seeing these giants of the depths swimming and eating in the great blue that we are blessed to have on our doorsteps.
And the only thing better than watching them yourself is seeing the joyous faces of visitors after a trip to observe these masters of the big oceans in action.
The increase in temperature this week was another sign that the cold of winter is behind us, for now, as cherry blossoms perform their final dances before the main flowers of summer come out to show their true colours.
There is a lot that is wrong in the world right now, but there is also plenty to be thankful for.
As West Cork opens up for another busy season, let’s make it a good one by rolling out the virtual red carpet to our guests, and providing them with a break that they’ll realise was worth the wait.