The onset of Covid-19 has upended normality on the Emerald Isle and abroad, and here we take a look at five ways the coronavirus is affecting Irish tourism.
The coronavirus has ground the world to a halt, suspended daily and normal life as we know it, and has left many of us questioning what the future holds and when we can start living it.
Ireland and its tourism industry are no different. The Emerald Isle usually welcomes millions of people to its shore’s year in, year out, raising billions of euros in the process, but we have possibly welcomed our last tourist and raised our last cent for the year 2020.
Here are five ways that the coronavirus is affecting Irish tourism.
- Tourism is effectively suspended – no clear return date
The first way that the coronavirus is affecting Irish tourism is that tourism, both domestic and foreign, is essentially suspended across Ireland. People were cancelling their planned trips to Ireland as early as March.
As Ireland enters into another week of lockdown, there remains no concrete idea in sight as to when tourism can resume on the island, and when people can come in and out of the country as normal.
The tragedy of this is fully felt in the fact that, in 2018, Ireland welcomed 11.2 million people to her land, amounting to the most overseas tourists to ever have visited the country, and no doubt 2020 would have more than matched this figure under normal circumstances.
- Domestic tourism is also affected – unable to explore our own country
Another, and perhaps often forgotten, way in which the coronavirus is affecting Irish tourism is that domestic tourism is also on hold, as people have been told not to visit their holiday homes, and are only allowed to travel 5km for exercise.
Over half of all domestic trips taken by Irish people each year are holiday trips, and, interestingly, Irish people take more domestic holidays than they do international holidays, reflecting the quality of our island.
Studies by Avvio show that domestic hotel bookings are down from last year, while cancellations also remain consistently higher as the weeks of lockdown pass by. Hotel check-ins by Irish people are also down significantly in April and May when compared to the same period last year.
This applies North and South. People from Derry are unable to take the short trip to the hills of Donegal, long road trips such as from Dublin to Cork are non-existent, and Irish towns and cities are, as we stand, under the purview of only those who live there.
- Ireland not being showcased – cut off from the world
Sadly, the beauty and charm of the Emerald Isle is no longer being showcased as the coronavirus takes a grip of the global economy and its machinations.
When people decide to come to Ireland, or when the Irish people pack their cars, they do so with good reasons and expectations; bustling cities, majestic mountains, breath-taking landscapes and stunning coastlines await.
For example, some of the best things to do in Dublin are to visit the Guinness Storehouse or go for a pint in the restless Temple Bar area, both avenues now being closed to willing participants.
For the time being, budding tourists can no longer be overwhelmed by Mount Errigal, in awe of the Cliffs of Moher, lost in lakes of Glendalough or adventuring amidst the woodlands of Connemara.
- Tourism industry taking a massive hit – jobs and livelihoods at risk
One of the most serious way in which the coronavirus is affecting Irish tourism is that the industry itself is now taking a huge hit and is perhaps one of the hardest hit industries by the Covid wrecking-ball.
It is estimated that around 10,000 jobs are at risk in the tourism and hospitality industry. Hotel bookings in Ireland for the months of April and May are significantly lower when compared to the same months last year, while check-ins for the last two months are also much lower than figures for 2019.
Airlines expect to cancel around 80% of their flights as a result of worldwide travel restrictions and a cessation of travelling, and their existence is at risk, and the jobs that come with it.
- No money raised from tourism – losing out on billions
Only an analysis of Tourism Ireland’s stats for Irish tourism for the year 2018 can fully reveal the damage caused to Irish tourism by the coronavirus.
The Irish economy is no longer making money from tourism, which was previously one of its most lucrative incomes. For example, European visitors to the island of Ireland spend €2 billion alone.
The revenue raised from overseas tourists amounted to €5.9 billion in 2018, record numbers once more. An extra 573,000 tourists visited Ireland in 2018, raising an additional €287million.
With the last 8 years of recorded overseas tourism numbers showing consecutive growth and incomparable revenue raised, 2020 will sadly put an end to this exponential rise and dry up the money well that came with it.
And yet there remains a light amongst this darkness. The Irish tourism industry has always rebounded quickly post-crisis, and no doubt the people of Ireland and its loyal visitors will add to the much-needed boost when this crisis subsides.