Irish people are longing to reconnect with family and friends, surveys suggest, but guidelines on re-opening tourism have yet to come
Physically reconnecting with family and friends will be a key driver of travel in Ireland once restrictions ease, according to consumer sentiment surveys carried out for Fáilte Ireland.
Short trips in Ireland and visiting family and friends are key desires being expressed by participants, it says, with terms such as "pubs", "eating out", "shopping" and "hugs" featuring strongly in responses.
"Travel is high on the agenda once life resumes," one report says.
"Physically reconnecting with family and friends is the key driver once restrictions fall," it adds, while another suggests a sharper focus on relationships, health, aspirational travel and "creating memories" on future trips.
The concept of reunion holidays has been gathering pace globally as travel marketers seek to keep future holidays front-of-mind without actively promoting travel.
In the Algarve, for example, where a 'Clean & Safe' stamp of approval is available to tourism businesses, the popular Quinta do Lago resort this week shared details of its preparations for re-opening "after Covid-19".
"Travellers will be inspired to seek safe, active destinations, with a focus on community, reunion and an appreciation for nature – and the resort is preparing to offer just that," it said.
Reunions could range from simple day-trips to luxury escapes, private rentals or celebrations of missed events like birthdays or Mother's Day - though clearly social restrictions and health protocols will play a role.
"I think people are going to make travel matter a lot more, and they will be considering who they travel with," says Honor Byrne, Sales & Marketing Director with CLIFF Group, which has several cottages, apartments and exclusive rentals among its properties in Ireland - including the new, €2,500-a-night Cliff Beach House (above) in Ardmore, Co Waterford.
"I feel that there will be a lot of pent-up demand - I have family up North and ache to see them, because we usually do once a month.
"It will be significant to celebrate and get together, but still have that space you can retreat back to and keep each of the households in some form of a unit as well."
Ireland has yet to publish a central plan for the reopening of tourism, or sector-specific supports, but Minister Shane Ross said this week that a "tourism recovery taskforce" will soon be established.
Fáilte Ireland has developed an online Covid-19 Business Supports Hub and says that, based on public health advice, it will "at the appropriate time and in association with the HSE", develop practical guidelines to prepare tourism and hospitality businesses to reopen.
Meanwhile, for staycationers champing at the bit to escape their 2km zone and hit the road again, the next few weeks will be critical "in the dynamic of emotions", its consumer surveys say.
'Normality' will resume within three-to-nine months, 61pc of participants believe, though there are of course caveats as to what 'normality' will mean under the new regime.
There is optimism, as people recognise a sense of the curve flattening and some progressive easing of restrictions in Europe. But there is also a sense of information overload and concern.
"Frustrations may turn to anger if messaging isn’t aligned," one survey notes.
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