Friday 25 May 2018

Helped by the strong dollar against the euro, Kinsale is enjoying a bountiful season

Tomas O’Brien, chairman of the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business.
Tomas O’Brien, chairman of the Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business.
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Ireland's self-proclaimed gourmet capital has had a solid tourist season, as the strength of the US dollar and UK sterling critically outweighs the curse of the grim summer weather.

Few towns are as dependent on holidaymakers as the Cork fishing port of Kinsale.

Its cash registers generally chime to reflect the vagaries of the national tourism sector.

"It's turning out to be a good season despite a couple of sticky months early on," Actons Hotel manager Tomas Wrixon explained.

"The weather certainly has not helped but, despite that, there has been an upturn and it is shaping up to be a good season though we are not back to the peak levels of say 2004-07."

Mr Wrixon said it was clear a lot of the recovery within the tourism sector is being driven by the North American market.

Estimates indicate that the number of US tourists is up by between 25pc and 40pc compared to 2011 levels.

"There are certainly a lot more American tourists around the place. They are particularly important for us - Kinsale has traditionally been one of the major stopovers for US holidaymakers because of the local attractions including the Old Head golf course and the quality restaurants.

"The Gathering promotion certainly helped and the enhanced value for money that Ireland now offers is another bonus for overseas holidaymakers. But a big factor has also been the number of Irish families who are taking domestic breaks."

Tracy Keoghan established Lemon Leaf Café six years ago following the birth of her daughter, Millie.

She has also noticed an upturn in local economic fortunes.

"Within quite a short timeframe, a café I thought would cater for a few locals had become popular all round," she said. "We are lucky with a busy calendar of events and festivals in Kinsale."

Dermot Ryan runs Kinsale Heritage Town Walks and has noticed a change in the profile and nationality of tourists.

"It has been a good year and there are definitely a lot more American tourists around the place," he said.

"But I have noticed a lot more German tourists as well. That is unusual because they generally tend to focus on the west of Ireland when they holiday here."

Dermot said that a number of factors have helped outweigh the weather.

"The strength of the US dollar against the euro is definitely a big plus. A lot of the UK tourists that have gone on my walks have also mentioned that the strength of sterling against the euro has also been a factor for them.

"Not to mention the fact that there was also a lot of interest in Ireland, and in Cork and Kinsale in particular, because of the RMS Lusitania centenary."

Kinsale Chamber of Tourism and Business chief, Tomas O'Brien, said he believes the Wild Atlantic Way ranks as one of tourism's greatest success.

"Hotel, B&B and self-catering accommodation providers are reporting positive bookings so far this year," he said.

Kinsale alone has seen five new restaurants open this year - joining the 30-plus that make the town such a foodie paradise.

"The thing that keeps cropping up amongst tourists is the Wild Atlantic Way. It has definitely proved a winner."

Gourmands can head to the town safe in the knowledge that there will be something to excite the taste buds. Kinsale now even has its own dedicated olive store such is the expansion of its culinary infrastructure.

Irish Independent

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