Short-term rentals in Cork face ‘bleak’ season due to Covid uncertainty

A wave of cancellations has hit accommodation providers following the discovery of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, with the Irish Hotels Federation forecasting over €90m in lost revenue for the hotel sector alone
Short-term rentals in Cork face ‘bleak’ season due to Covid uncertainty

Deveral Cork property owners who use the rental site for bookings told The Echo that their calendars had cleared in recent weeks

THE Christmas season is looking “rather bleak” for the short-term rental market in Cork, according to several Airbnb hosts in the county.

A wave of cancellations has hit accommodation providers following the discovery of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, with the Irish Hotels Federation forecasting over €90m in lost revenue for the hotel sector alone.

When analysing data from AirDNA, it seems Airbnb and Vrbo hosts are facing a similar problem. According to the rental analytics site, occupancy, booking lead times, and the number of booked properties in Cork are all down this month.

Looking at data from 2019, it is estimated that over 2,500 nights were booked in Cork listings for December. Last month, prior to the latest tightening of public health restrictions, only 1,293 were booked.

When contacted, Airbnb said that it did not have data available, but several Cork property owners who use the rental site for bookings told The Echo that their calendars had cleared in recent weeks.

CLOSE FOR WINTER

One B&B manager who uses the site predicted that the business would have to close for the rest of the winter entirely due to cancellations and staffing issues.

She has even been contacting any remaining customers to see if they wish to cancel without charge for New Year’s Eve.

Peter Shanahan of the Long Strand Nest in Castlefreke has also lost all of his bookings for the season, both through his own website and the Airbnb website.

“It would be a quiet time of the year anyway but any bookings we did have [coming up] have cancelled,” he said.

“People are very unsure of the mixed messages coming from the top table in Dublin and are unwilling to take any chances when it comes to Christmas.

“Our bookings are also quiet for summer 2022 and again that’s due to all the uncertainty.”

Dawna Connolly, who leases a converted boat to visitors on her property in Ballinspittle, has also noticed bookings slowing for next year.

BOOKS 'WAY DOWN'

“My bookings are way down on other years,” she said. “I used to get tonnes of Americans this time of year and I have found that bookings are very slow for next year.

“And I’m getting a good few last-minute bookings. I think people are being cautious and checking out what’s available a day or two before they plan to go away.”

However, for one Kinsale couple, summer 2022 is looking much brighter for their rental cottage than the next few months.

“The outlook currently for January and February is looking rather bleak,” said Mary Ann O’Donovan.

“Although, we do understand these are ‘soft’ months in general anyway. It is hard to determine at this stage if that’s down to that, the current restrictions, the talk of a possible new lockdown due to the Omicron and Delta variants, or post-holiday financial burdens.”

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