Saturday 18 November 2017

Irish splash €1 billion on holidays in three months, but there's a problem...

Costa del Crowded

A crowded beach in Barcelona. Photo: Deposit
A crowded beach in Barcelona. Photo: Deposit
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Ireland's recession is firmly in the rear-view mirror, if two new reports on holiday spending are to be believed.

Data released today by the Central Statistics Office reveals that overseas trips by Irish people were up 13.1pc for the first quarter of 2016.

In the three months from January to March, Irish residents took almost 1.5 million overseas trips, with their spending up by a whopping 22pc.

Travel and tourism expenditure rose to €971m, up from €794m in the same period last year - or to more than €1.18 billion when all fares are included.

All of this, and peak holiday season hasn't even started.

Meanwhile, 66pc of respondents to a survey by travel insurance provider Multitrip.com said they would spend up to €2,500 on their main holiday this year.

One in four (26pc) plan to spend up to €5,000 on their getaway.

45pc of respondents told Multitrip.com that they would take two or more foreign holidays in 2016, with 18pc planning three or more overseas breaks.

Holidaymakers view flowers left on Marhaba beach where 38 people were killed in a terrorist attack in June 2015 in Sousse, Tunisia
Holidaymakers view flowers left on Marhaba beach where 38 people were killed in a terrorist attack in June 2015 in Sousse, Tunisia

With the holiday boom has come a problem, however.

Increasing visitor numbers, combined with the impact of terrorist attacks on destinations like Egypt, Tunisia (above) and Turkey, are placing an extra squeeze on traditional hotspots like the Canaries, Majorca and the Costa del Sol.

There were almost 1.7m Irish visits to Spain in 2015, according to CSO figures.

Pat Dawson, chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), recently told the Irish Independent that he expects the number of Irish people going to Spain to increase by 200,000 this year, as foreign holidays return to Celtic Tiger levels.

By contrast, Multitrip.com saw Egypt named this year's least popular destination for 25.6pc of respondents, followed by Israel (22.7pc), Turkey (20.3pc), Russia (10.5pc) and Mexico (9.3pc). The holiday map is changing.

The 'Costa del Crowded' effect is being felt on the ground, too.

Last year, Barcelona put a cap on tourist accommodation. Recently, Italy's Cinque Terra restricted visitor numbers, and Majorca is introducing a tourist tax that could reportedly cost a family of four €85 over a two-week holiday.

Dublin Airport can expect a record summer, but late bargains are in short supply. The holiday landscape is set to change - just how dramatically, remains to be seen.

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