At the start of the year, we published our predictions of what the Irish travel picture might look like in 2010. It’s only March, and several of our forecasts have come true… some of them regretfully.
First, our suggestion that hotels would lead the charge for lower priced accommodations came with a nasty side effect – Zombie Hotels that will likely hurt the industry in the long run.
Then yesterday, Michele Erdvig from www.IrelandYes.com alerted us to news that a car rental shortage — especially automatic transmission vehicles that North Americans desire — might cause prices to skyrocket this season. That confirmed rental prices won’t be going down… in fact, after the Irish Times ran the article, some rental prices went up $4 a day.
And this morning, our concerns for an even quieter Shannon Airport were fueled. Aer Lingus is seriously considering plans to drop all long-haul flights from the west coast airport. The airline will likely announce their new “strategy” next month… we’ll keep our fingers crossed that they figure something out to keep Europe’s most tourist-friendly airport open for visitors from across the sea.
So What’s the Good News for Travelers?
All of these items are bad news for tourists, so what do we have to look forward to this year? Well, tourism is under the microscope at the moment, and it’s the one industry the Irish government seems to believe it can impact and profit from (even if their plans to put all their eggs in the UK basket could blow up in their face). So there are some positives for those traveling to the Emerald Isle this year…
Sweet Deals on Accommodations and Restaurants – While airfare and car rental prices are causing sticker shock for would-be visitors, hotels and B&Bs and restaurants are amping up their game… offering more for less and rewarding guests who stay a little longer.
Seniors Can Ride Irish Rail for Free – The government has moved forward on the plan we mentioned in our predictions to provide free rail transportation to seniors. That’s a double win for mature travelers… no car rental costs AND free train tickets.
Better Attitude Toward Tourism – The pendulum has swung yet again. As Irish emmigration is making a comeback, the Irish people have again become more sensitive to visitors. That includes a handful of astute government officials who are standing up for tourists by addressing fees, travel taxes, visa standards and several other issues that serve as barriers to growing tourism in Ireland. Psst, Irish officials, would you keep an eye on the car companies for us… they are among the LEAST tourist-friendly industries in Ireland — so much so, we had to tell our readers the 5 Things You Should Know When Renting a Car in Ireland.