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Staycations are here to stay

Tom Breathnach outlines why people’s appetite to enjoy holidays within Ireland is at an all-time high

Should I stay(cation) or should I go? Well, in 2022, it may be just looking like both! As the pandemic eases and international travel opens up, the world has become our wanderlust oyster like never before.

But so too, our love affair with exploring home shores seems as strong as ever. You could say Ireland’s grá for gallivanting is verging on the viral nowadays with almost every social media feed stacked with images of weekend road trips or family holidays at home.

It seems we’ve never been travelling in Ireland more — and those online optics are mirrored by industry voices.

“According to our latest info, 2022 is looking like a very good year for both the domestic and overseas visitors to Ireland,” Niall Tracey, Director of Sales and Marketing with Fáilte Ireland, tells us.

“I think Irish people are definitely looking for a long holiday overseas and are keen to get some sun on their back, but they’re still very eager to enjoy a domestic holiday too,” he adds.

In terms of trends, both familiarity and adventure seem to be standing out, according to Tracey.

“People are very keen to do two things. Firstly, to get away — either with or to see family members; and the second big driver is people going off to see somewhere new.

“At home during the Covid pandemic, Irish consumers spent a lot of time researching destinations and they became aware that there’s always somewhere new to experience in Ireland. That’s why we’re always investing in new attractions from the new Irish Racehorse Experience in Kildare to the new visitor centre at the Céide Fields, which is really unlocking that part of the world.”

And we’re not just content with one staycation either, it seems.

“Lots of people spend a week in the summer in hotels, or camping or self-catering but then an awful lot of people are taking short breaks too,” Tracey explains. “They’re easy and reassuring to book and both midweek breaks and weekend breaks are becoming so popular, be it for Easter or the upcoming May or June Bank Holiday,” he adds.

It’s a similar story in the six counties where visitors from the Republic to Northern Ireland were extremely strong last year. That surge is set to continue and for a lot of new faces, too.

“Tourism NI’s consumer sentiment research indicates that approximately half of Republic of Ireland visitors to Northern Ireland during 2021, and the first two months of 2022, were first time leisure visitors,” Fiona Cunningham, ROI Marketing Manager with Tourism Northern Ireland, tells me. “Tourism NI had been targeting the Republic of Ireland market for some time,” she explains.

“Then, the opportunity arose during Covid for those wanting a holiday but wishing to try something new with a sense of getting away from it all. Northern Ireland was able to deliver that in bucketloads and the numbers visiting from the ROI reflect this, particularly the huge increase in people visiting for the first time and more families.”

It seems there are so many reasons to load the roof-rack for in Ireland for 2022, from finding a hidden beach on a West Cork island or road-tripping along the Causeway Coast to discovering the new Brú na Bóinne centre in Meath or the spanking new Game of Thrones Studio in Armagh.

Whether it’s a case of #keepdiscovering or #agiantadventure adventure, your latest staycation reel awaits.