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Tourism in rural Ireland set to thrive this summer, but cities will suffer, Fáilte Ireland says

Fáilte Ireland say rural destinations are offering the outdoor attractions people are seeking in light of the pandemic.

Portmagee harbour
Portmagee harbour
Image: PA Images

TOURISM IN RURAL Ireland is set to thrive this summer, but cities will suffer, Fáilte Ireland has said.

As Ireland gears up for another summer of staycations, rural destinations are offering the outdoor attractions people are seeking in light of the pandemic.

But cities are set to “struggle” and will continue to do so, a briefing of the tourism board heard today. 

Fáilte Ireland’s director of marketing Niall Tracey said: “It’s going to be a bit of a year of two halves. We’re going to have a summer where large parts of the country actually do very well.

“Because we know from our research that people really want to get out to the coast, they want to walk on beaches, they want to go up greenways, and they want to spend time outdoors predominantly.

“So a lot of the country is going to open up really well.

“But it’s not going to be great everywhere. At the other end of the spectrum are cities, because cities do really well with international tourism.

“People use cities for things like big matches, concerts, big events, none of which will be happening in the short term.

“So while rural Ireland has actually got an awful lot of exactly what people are looking for, unfortunately the cities are struggling and are going to struggle.”

Part of the problem is that people are waiting to see how the lifting of Covid restrictions goes before deciding to book.

Outdoor dining is set to resume on 7 June, but indoor dining will only be allowed in hotels for guests.

It is less clear when indoor dining will make a wider return, although Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said this week that he hopes it will be “early July”.

Fáilte Ireland is hoping that increased clarity will bring increased demand.

Tracey said: “As regards indoor dining, I think particularly for cities, that definitely makes people a little bit more reluctant, to wait and see before they book.

“The city experience isn’t just the attractions or the shopping. It’s also being able to go for a meal, head out for a couple of beers afterwards, the vibe of the city centre.

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“You can compensate for that, as I’ve mentioned in parts of rural Ireland, when a hotel is potentially your accommodation base.

“We’re hoping, we’re expecting not only that reopening on the second of June will give a big boost, because people will then know other people going on holiday, and that creates its own momentum.

“But also if Government are able to give a bit more clarity as regards some of the other elements of tourism and hospitality, when they will open, I think that clarity will definitely help.”

Speaking to the media this afternoon, Tourism Minister Catherine Martin said: “I hope next week the government will be producing a road map for international tourism. That is really critical for tourism to recover, it accounts for 75% of the tourism revenue.

“I’m acutely aware of that as Minister for Tourism and also for the supports that are needed so there is no cliff edge for this industry.”

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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