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Fáilte Ireland may target Northern Irish visitors to bolster tourism trade

More and more people will be staying on the island for a holiday this summer.

Bundoran in Donegal remains a popular location for visitors from Northern Ireland.
Bundoran in Donegal remains a popular location for visitors from Northern Ireland.
Image: Shutterstock/LaurenPD

FÁILTE IRELAND IS considering launching a new campaign to attract Northern visitors across the border as part of efforts to encourage ‘staycations’ amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

Northern Irish visitors are a key source of business to hotels and tourist attractions south of the border. 

With Fáilte Ireland having already launched a campaign encouraging people to holiday at home, it may soon extend that strategy to the Northern Irish market. 

While visitors from Northern Ireland make up a relatively small share of the Irish tourism market, hundreds of thousands of people cross the border every year for day trips or holidays. 

A spokesperson for Fáilte Ireland told TheJournal.ie that it currently wasn’t running any campaigns or advertisements in the North. 

“But given the importance of the Northern Irish visitor to the border counties and Dublin we will be reviewing this,” the spokesperson said. 

The tourism and hospitality sector has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. With visitor numbers to Ireland close to zero since March and the country locked down until recently, the situation facing the sector has been described as catastrophic. 

Tourism along the border is particularly reliant on visitors from the North. In 2017, Fáilte Ireland estimated that visitors from Northern Ireland spent €141 million in the region. 

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Yesterday, the Irish Hotels’ Federation reported occupancy rates of between 23% and 26% for the summer months. 

Earlier this month, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, Paul Kelly, warned that the tourism sector would take longest to recover from the crisis. 

“Economically tourism was hit first, hit hardest and will take the longest to recover. The sector has now had four months of no revenue. While revenue stopped the costs did not. Despite the supports the Government put in place, our initial ballpark estimate is that tourism businesses have incurred well over €1 billion in unavoidable costs while closed,” he said. 

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