CORK city hoteliers have expressed concerns that tourism in the city could likely lag behind county areas as people opt to leave the city for staycations this summer.
This was a “pattern” that was experienced last year and one that is emerging again this summer, according to chair of the Cork branch of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) and General Manager of the Kingsley, Fergal Harte.
“We’re seeing that already in some of the surveys that the IHF have compiled so far where Cork city, for example, is lagging behind in comparison to the more rural and coastal locations.
“We’re still hopeful that a good level of business will come in and we’d really encourage people to shop around.
Mr Harte said he is hopeful that clarity on the further easing of restrictions, expected this week, may drive up hotel bookings.
“We got a good boost a couple of weeks ago when the Government made their most recent announcement in relation to hotels being able to open, for example, on June 2.
“We certainly saw a good spike in bookings at that stage.
“We’re expecting another announcement, hopefully this week, from the Government which we hope will give more clarity on the roadmap across the summer.
“The more information we have, the easier it is for us to plan ahead and the better the product that we should be able to provide for guests as well,” he said.
His comments followed similar concerns highlighted by Fáilte Ireland last week.
Speaking at a briefing of the tourism board on Friday, Fáilte Ireland’s director of marketing Niall Tracey said it will be a “year of two halves”.
“We’re going to have a summer where large parts of the country actually do very well.
“Because we know from our research that people really want to get out to the coast, they want to walk on beaches, they want to go up greenways, and they want to spend time outdoors predominantly.
“So a lot of the country is going to open up really well.
“People use cities for things like big matches, concerts, big events, none of which will be happening in the short term.
“So while rural Ireland has actually got an awful lot of exactly what people are looking for, unfortunately, the cities are struggling and are going to struggle.” Speaking to The Echo, owner of the Vienna Woods Hotel in Glanmire, Michael Magner, said that while occupancy levels are indeed better in the county than the city, the levels are “nowhere near where they need to be” for the summer.
“That demonstrates that while Ireland this year will be a summer of the staycation, really the absolute reality is that we need to have international visitors and tourists coming to our shores to meet the demands that businesses have in order to run,” he said.
Mr Magner said clarity from the Government next week on the further easing of restrictions will be welcome.
He also said that “further and continued” supports for the industry will be crucial.