There's no place like home as sun sparks surge in staycations
Ireland is set to benefit from a bumper staycation boost as thousands of people are ditching foreign breaks for a holiday at home.
Hotels and B&Bs across the country were booked up last night, and there are few rooms to spare in some of the tourism hotspots.
Eoghan O'Mara Walsh, chief executive of Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, said: "This bank holiday weekend will be a very busy one for domestic tourism.
"There's a great deal of staycations and a lot of Irish tourists, from particularly Dublin, Limerick and Cork, who will set off into the regions and enjoy the good weather and what Irish tourism has to offer in terms of hotels and leisure."
The tourism industry was worth €8.7bn last year.
Thanks to the high temperatures across Ireland this summer, Mr Walsh predicted that this figure would be even higher.
"When you have good weather, there's no better place to holiday than at home in Ireland, and this year people knew the country was having a great summer, so once we had the sunshine, there was a surge to staycation."
Joe Dolan, a prominent hotelier and former president of the Irish Hotels Federation, who runs the Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, said the State had invested a great deal in "making Ireland a destination for staycations".
"There are new places to visit such as the Ancient East, and many tourism areas have been opened up that weren't really on the map before," Mr Dolan added.
"There's now such a huge variety of places to visit in Ireland and festivals and activities are on everywhere."
Killarney Plaza Hotel and Spa, in Co Kerry, reported being fully booked for the bank holiday weekend.
Manager Danielle Mannix said that a number of rooms had been snapped up by travellers from Cork and Dublin, among others.
Enda Kavanagh, CEO of Wexford Chamber of Commerce, agreed that thousands of people would be heading to the sunny south-east.
"There's a hive of activity and very good vibes across Wexford in the sunshine. There's festivals and arts events. And people are going to be more inclined to relax and that is going to reflect in the marketplace. But we don't know to what extent we'll benefit just yet," she said.
For those who are savvy and are trying to bag a last-minute break, Donegal may be an option.
Gerry O'Donnell, at Fitzgeralds Hotel, in Bundoran, said: "I expect the weekend to be busy but much of our trade comes from Northern Ireland and they don't have a bank holiday this weekend."