BY MARTHA BRENNAN
WEST Cork’s Airbnb operators are reporting a dramatic increase in bookings since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions – and most of them are from people in the rebel county.
Mary Ann and Con O’Donovan started leasing their property in Kinsale through the site this year, but faced an unprecedented roadblock when lockdown began.
‘We opened up and were delighted to have bookings from people near and far,’ says Mary Ann. ‘But when the fear of the pandemic took hold, we lost all but a handful of those.’ Mary Ann says that they were delighted to see bookings increase after the government’s announcement to speed up the easing of restrictions. ‘The past couple of weeks have seen us gaining back the ground we had lost and then some, and we are very grateful to salvage a bit of the season.’
Mary Ann and Con say they are working extra hard to make sure guests feel safe by ensuring strict hygiene and providing sanitising supplies for guests. ‘We have received some guidance from Airbnb for new cleaning and sanitising protocols, which we have adopted,’ Mary Ann says. ‘Offering a spotlessly clean property has always been a priority, but we now include extra measures, especially for high touch surfaces, and have extra sanitising supplies left for guests to help them feel more in control of their surroundings.’
Dolores and Jim Hegarty, who own Ballincurrig House in Courtmacsherry, are usually booked up this time of year through Airbnb but haven’t had any guests since the pandemic began in February. ‘Usually we’re booked out for Easter and we’ve had two very busy summers.’ Dolores says. But as cancellations started to pour in and the country went into lockdown, they decided not to take bookings until July. ‘I’ve been telling people who needed to cancel not to worry, we tried to remain enthusiastic and keep some good karma around.’ Dolores says. Karma did come back around it seems, as Ballincurrig House is completely booked out from July through to September, mostly with people from Cork.
Dena O’Donovan, of O’Donovan’s hotel in Clonakilty, says that her Airbnb listing has been busier than ever since the government’s latest announcement. ‘Normally we’d have one or two bookings a week but now I’m getting enquiries four times a day,’ Dena says. Between the hotel and Airbnb, Dena got 700 cancellations once lockdown began.
‘Cancellations started coming in fast and furious. It felt like I was sat at my laptop for about three days dealing with them.’ She says that the property went from being full through the summer, then empty, and now back again. However, this time all the bookings are from Cork people.
‘A typical month last summer would see about two to three bookings from Cork people but now they’re all from within the county. People are moving around now, and people from Cork that might be afraid to travel far have loads of options here.’