'Staycations' boost domestic tourism
TOURISM is hotting up under the volcanic ash cloud as Irish holidaymakers swap Barcelona for Ballybunion, it was claimed yesterday.
Despite contrary claims by other industry representatives, Failte Ireland said there has been a "significant uplift" for hoteliers, B&Bs and self-catering operators around the country.
Director of market development at the State tourism agency, John Concannon, said the air traffic chaos was giving the trade a shot in the arm as people forsake foreign destinations for a 'staycation'.
"The view presently is that the uplift is offsetting what has been lost," he said.
Ireland is losing trade from an estimated 15,000 visitors every day of the flight ban, with a cost to the economy at around €9m.
The flipside is that up to 15,000 people intending to return home were stranded in the country and Failte Ireland believes at least half of those are rebooking accommodation.
Mr Concannon said Failte Ireland directly contacted more than 300 hoteliers, B&Bs, and self-catering businesses yesterday.
Most reported a surge in business, particularly from Irish tourists who have ditched plans for a break abroad and decided to holiday at home.
For international visitors forced to cancel their return trip, Failte Ireland has set up a special-offers section on its website, called 'Stranded in Ireland'.
Despite fears operators would hike up fees, Mr Concannon insisted tourism traders were "stepping up to the plate" with offers of free laundry, discounted golf and reduced rates.