Going wild for home again as staycations on the rise
Household travel survey
Staycations are back in vogue, with the lure of the Wild Atlantic Way and the 'sunny southeast' encouraging large numbers of holidaymakers to remain at home.
Irish domestic tourists spent over €1.2bn holidaying at home or visiting friends and family last year, while the total spend on domestic tourism was €1.53bn, according to the CSO's Household Travel Survey.
It revealed that Dublin city and county were the top destinations for Irish domestic tourists, followed closely by Galway city and county and counties Kerry, Cork and Wexford.
In total, Irish residents took 7.5 million trips at home last year, an increase of 2.4pc over 2014. The average trip lasted 2.8 nights for a total of 20.9 million bed nights.
While Dublin leads the country with the highest number of domestic trips (1,391,000) and bed nights (2,965,000), Galway followed close behind with 815,000 trips and 2,648,000 bed nights. Hotels continue to be the most popular form of accommodation for domestic visitors, followed by staying with friends and family.
Rental and self-catering accomm-odation were the next most popular form of accommodation, followed by holiday homes, guesthouses and B&Bs, camping and caravans.
People staying in hotels had the shortest stay of an average of two nights.
The growing popularity of the Wild Atlantic Way is being credited with the large number of Irish visiting the seven counties along the rugged coastal route.
Kerry and Cork were among the most popular destination counties for Irish tourists, featuring some of the top attractions in the 2,500km-long network of stunning coastal vistas.
Co Kerry ranked top of the league tables for the longest average stay of 3.7 nights, followed by Galway at 3.2 nights and Wexford at 3.1 nights.
"The Wild Atlantic Way has really captured people's imaginations," said Tim Fenn, CEO of the Irish Hotels Federation.
"It's become part of people's bucket lists. We're in the land of recovery, which is great."
However, he said the recovery in the tourism and hospitality sector somewhat mirrored that of the economy in general in which some areas were booming and others were still struggling.
Dublin, for example, has greater demand for bed nights than it can supply for both domestic and foreign tourists, while other areas like the border counties and the Midlands are not seeing the same pace of recovery.
"The domestic economy is recovering but it's not uniform," he said.
Alex Connolly, spokesman for Fáilte Ireland, welcomed the figures, noting the increase in the number of domestic tourists last year was an encouraging sign, after fears during the recession that the domestic market could collapse.
"That's the bread and butter of the industry and the domestic market now is healthy," he said.