The Irish Times view on the staycation market: Improving domestic appeal

The hospitality industry needs to consider its offer to people holidaying at home

 

Many working in Irish hospitality are making ends meet through their second summer of staycations, while others are struggling. It would, however, be a mistake to divide the sector into winners and losers as the reality is that without a full resumption of international leisure travel, there are no winners.

It is virtually impossible to overstate the importance of tourism to the Irish economy. In normal times, the sector employs over 300,000 people and generates around €6 billion in revenue, adding as much as €2 billion to the exchequer’s coffers each year.

In 2019 just over 11 million visitors travelled to Ireland. This year the number will be under two million.

The inevitability of climate change will only make these fierce temperatures worse in the future and staycations more appealing, pandemic or no pandemic

While the financial headache for the hospitality sector is undoubtedly crushing, it is not its only problem. Although Irish people holidaying at home will never outspend the visitors who have been unable to travel here, they are more than capable of holding their own when it comes to complaining.

According to multiple studies from Tourism Ireland, tourists from overseas tend not to give out about high prices, bad weather and poor food, the bugbears of the locals. Earlier this week Irish Times readers documented their experiences of staycations and people repeatedly pointed to overpricing – for food and drink, for accommodation and for activities – with many expressing frustration that a short break at home often costs more than a longer one overseas. Service levels have also slipped, as staff are in short supply in some areas.

Despite the complaints and the multiple challenges faced by the hospitality sector, many who holidayed at home this year have had wonderful experiences and enjoyed weather that was virtually unprecedented.

However the heatwave of 2021 is a harbinger of dangerous clouds on the horizon at home and abroad. Seasoned sunseekers will have looked anxiously at traditionally popular tourism destinations in Turkey, Greece, Spain and Italy where temperatures soared leaving many regions – literally – on fire and wondered where do we go from here?

The inevitability of climate change will only make these fierce temperatures worse in the future and staycations more appealing, pandemic or no pandemic. Hopefully when the industry finds its equilibrium it will have learned how to better cater for the market closest to home.

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