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Staycation honeymooners provide Clare tourism boost

A BOOST to hotel trade in parts of Clare has come in the form of newly-weds honeymooning at home this year.

With a raft of Covid-19 related rules curtailing the size of gatherings at weddings, many have opted to defer their nuptials, but those who are tying the knot in the time of coronavirus, are providing tourism operations with a very welcome staycation boost.

“I have seen a lot of Irish honeymooners coming to Clare,” said Lahinch hotelier Michael Vaughan. “My stocks of champagne are much depleted and anecdotally I’m hearing that couples who are staying in the country for their honeymoons are getting to discover what the country has to offer. I think there is a silver lining here in that people are quite surprised by what their own country has to offer.”

In terms of his own business, the former Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) president said that while visitor numbers had been strong in August, he estimate that business overall would be up to 60% down on last year.

Nationally, the IHF warned that almost three-quarters of Irish tourism-related jobs are at risk this year unless restrictions are eased on indoor gatherings. Mr Vaughan echoed that call saying it is posing unanticipated problems. “I’m finding there is strong demand from groups coming to Lahinch for golf, for example,” he said. “While I can accommodate a group without any difficulty, I can’t serve them in the restaurant as a group. If there booking is a group one, a dinner in the restaurant would constitute a gathering, with all of the restrictions on size that are attached to that. It’s an issue I’d like to see resolved.”

The IHF has repeated its warning on employment in the sectory, saying that 100,000 of 270,000 tourism jobs in the State had been wiped out since March. The organisation predicted that a further 100,000 are at risk because of the seasonal slump at this time of year..

Nationally, hotels and guesthouses are now reporting a 70% drop in projected revenues for September compared with this time last year.

July and August saw average national room occupancy at 49% compared with 90% for the same months last year.

About Fiona McGarry

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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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