'Staycation' boost for tourism as 80pc planning holiday at home
'These figures show there may still be business to pitch for in the home holiday market'
MORE than 80pc of families are planning to holiday at home in Ireland in what could be a desperately needed boost for the tourism industry.
As a new survey revealed families were twice as likely to holiday at home as overseas, Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin said the industry was finally offering good deals to families.
"There's no doubt in recent years that we lost the run of ourselves. Prices were very, very high, people were able to point to better value that they were getting abroad," she told reporters at the Bloom garden festival.
"That's not true this year. All of the accommodation is much better value. The all-in packages are very, very good this year," she said.
"I think the tourist industry realised that we have to step up to the plate; there's just not as much money in circulation as there was for families. And I genuinely believe that they have done that."
The new survey for Failte Ireland carried out by Millward Brown Lansdowne revealed that twice as many people with children were planning to holiday at home in Ireland as travel abroad this summer.
The recession, the volcanic ash cloud and the recent good weather are all believed to be behind the trend towards staycations.
Ms Hanafin welcomed the research yesterday as she launched a campaign to try and nail down this business.
"These figures are encouraging and show that there may still be business to pitch for in the home-holiday market.
"As schools close, parents will naturally be looking for attractive locations with lots to see and do for all the family," she said.
The survey found that 43pc were likely to take a family holiday abroad this year instead of, or as well as, an Irish holiday.
This compared to the 56pc of families who holidayed abroad last year, and Failte Ireland said this 13pc reduction in the numbers planning a foreign trip was a "significant pool of possible additional home holiday business for the Irish tourism industry to aim for".
The most recent official figures showed that 100,000 fewer foreigners had visited Ireland every month this year, a 23pc slump, which has been disastrous for the struggling tourism industry.
The CSO figures show that the number of Irish trips overseas has fallen by a more modest 7pc this year, though this was before the volcanic ash crisis hit in April and May.
Ryanair said this week that flight bookings had been weak for May and June as many people were nervous about the possibility of further airport closures due to volcanic ash, forcing them to cut prices heavily, although bookings had picked up for July and August.
Failte Ireland chief executive Shaun Quinn said that tourism businesses were now fighting for every potential inch of the market.
"As our research shows, there is a very strong possibility that many more Irish families will stay at home this summer. It is up to all of us in the tourism sector to do all we can to tap this potential by offering good value and a great experience," he said.
"The viability of hundred of businesses and thousands of jobs depend upon it."
Failte Ireland is distributing 700,000 brochures to newspaper readers this week outlining 200 special holiday offers and will run a two-week radio advertising campaign to persuade families to holiday in Ireland.