| 6.3°C Dublin

Families urged to go on 'staycation' and help tourism industry to recover

Close

Paul Devane in his boat

Paul Devane in his boat

Paul Devane in his boat

The Government has been urged to consider a 'staycation' package, to salvage something from the 2020 season, by one of Ireland's most successful marine tourism officials.

Kerry tourism operator Paul Devane warned it was "absolutely critical" the new government offers hope to an industry facing the worst losses in over a century.

Ireland's most tourism dependent county has estimated visitor numbers will plummet by 80pc this year because of Covid-19.

Paul and his wife Mary operate Skellig Michael Cruises and said that, despite the pandemic lockdown, they have received queries from all over Ireland, Europe and North America about when Kerry tourism operations will resume in late summer.

"We have to be positive - and I am hopeful that, if everything goes well for the Government and HSE, we could see some operations resume from July 28," the father-of-five said.

Dependent

"I think it is vital we encourage people to holiday in Ireland - here in Portmagee we will welcome visitors in July, August, September and even October. We will take anything we can get."

Paul said south west Kerry is heavily dependent on tourism and needs any income it can salvage from the season.

"We operate both landing tours to Skellig Michael and tours around both Skellig islands. We are a seasonal business and usually operate from mid-March until the end of October."

"Like many others, our business has been adversely affected this year due to Covid-19. However, we must remain positive and try to get the tours up and running for the latter part of the season."

The pandemic hasn't just hit Paul's business - his 17-year-old son was due to sit his Leaving Cert exams. "It has been tough for everyone. But I think we are at the stage now where we have to be positive and look to the future," he said.

"The recent announcement from the government states that in Phase 3 (of the lockdown easing) people will be allowed to travel outside their region. This is very positive for us and we will be operating tours from July 20/28 and even earlier if restrictions are lifted sooner."

Paul said Irish holidaymakers now have an opportunity to savour the magic of the Wild Atlantic Way and other Irish tourism gems.

"We would encourage Irish tourists to holiday at home this year to help small and local businesses to get off the ground again. We are all in this together."

Paul said the Government can play a critical role in kick-starting the tourism recovery by launching special promotions for the domestic holiday sector - and helping make 'staycations' attractive to Irish families.

"If Irish people chose to holiday at home this year it will go a long way towards helping us salvage something from the season and get the economy going again - that is important for everyone."