Bad Economy Is Good News?
liam says… I’m giving Corey a break from talking about our Irish-American Roadtrip…which starts in only five days…to share a couple items I’ve noticed in the new year.
Recession has hit Ireland, and for a country who seemed to think the Celtic Tiger economy would never end, it’s been rough going. The headlines in Ireland are quite similar to the United States – job losses, budget cuts, banking crisis, mortgage doomsday. The pendulum has swung, and the boom times are over…for now, as outlined in the New York Times article about the rise and fall of the Irish economy.
This week Waterford Crystal announced it has gone into the equivalent of bankruptcy protection. Can’t say this is a surprise. On all four of my visits to the Waterford factory this summer with guests, the tour guides tossed out various explanations as to why the factory was operating with a skeleton crew…usually something mentioning employee holidays (no mention of “compulsory” holidays). There are other headlines of Dell moving 2,000 jobs from Limerick to Poland and Aer Lingus not planning to make a profit in 2009 (which prompted the renegade discount airline Ryan Air to increase their bid for the company).
Yep, same doom and gloom stuff you’re reading in your hometown paper, right. Well, for those planning a trip to Ireland, a recession isn’t such a terrible thing…that is if you still have your job and your retirement hasn’t evaporated.
Stronger Dollar…or Maybe Just a Weaker Euro
The good news is that travel-related expenses for Ireland have either stayed the same or gone down for 2009. That is especially good news because the exchange rate is moving in favor Americans. Last summer for every €100 I spent, it cost me about $155 to $160 — today, every €100 is costing $135 to $140…that can make a HUGE difference for travelers. Just on account of the exchange rate, you could save $25 a night on your accommodations alone compared to last summer!
As for dropping prices, I just checked summer fares, and flights posted at $1,200 last month are now under $800. There’s no way to know how low they will go, but scoring high season flights under $800 was a triumph in 2008 and 2007. Conde Nast Traveler just published an article on how to get the best price on airfare.
B&B prices should come in the same or slightly lower than last summer as well. It’s in the luxury accommodations where you’ll find the biggest savings. They are desperate and offering deep discounts, so don’t be afraid to shop around and ask for their best price.
Another big advantage…the Irish themselves are tightening the purse strings. That means restaurants and shops are offering budget-minded options to attract customers. My Irish cousins tell me that all the stores are running the biggest sales they’ve ever seen, and everyone is looking for a bargain.
A few words of caution…tour operators and luxury accommodations in Ireland are suffering, and a handful are going out of business. That said, don’t panic, just make sure you are dealing with reputable companies and ask questions before you hand over cash. You can get some excellent advice on the matter from www.IrelandExpert.com, www.IrelandYes.com and www.dochara.com.
For those traveling in 2009, have GREAT TRIP, and although we might be in hard times…there should be some solace in knowing that you are getting a bargain this year.
And if all this talk about the ECONOMY is getting to you, follow us on the Irish-American Roadtrip. Daily updates begin Tuesday. And don’t forget to vote…the poll is in yesterday’s post.