Advance bookings for long and short-break holidays in Ireland were at 12 per cent of their normal rate last month, according to the latest survey by Fáilte Ireland on the travel intentions of domestic holidaymakers.
However, Fáilte Ireland said bookings for hotels and other tourist accommodation were likely to increase rapidly once the Government lifted restrictions on inter-county travel.
Fáilte Ireland said the results of its latest consumer sentiment survey, which were taken in advance of the recent announcement of the easing of restrictions on travel within counties, showed Irish people have been adopting a “wait and see” approach to booking holidays this year.
The latest findings reveal a slight easing of sentiment since the start of the year about taking a domestic holiday in 2021 while younger adults without children indicated a desire to take short trips overseas this year.
The survey found 43 per cent intend taking a short break in Ireland in the next six months – down two percentage points since January.
Role of uncertainty
At the same time, the proportion of consumers who do not intend to take any short break over the same period also decreased from 37 per cent in January to 30 per cent by March.
Fáilte Ireland claimed uncertainty around travel restrictions remained the principal barrier as few people were choosing to book holidays until it was known when inter-county travel would be permitted.
As a result, Fáilte Ireland said the months when people intended to travel had continually been adjusted deeper into the year.
“This indicates a strong desire to take domestic breaks whenever they become available, whether inside or outside the peak summer months,” Fáilte Ireland said.
It claimed August, September and October were the most likely months when holidays would be taken in Ireland in 2021.
“The Government giving the all-clear is the cue consumers are waiting for and once given they will act and act quickly. The time taken between destination decisions, booking and actual trips will be short,” it added.
Although uncertainties surrounding travel were having an impact on bookings, Fáilte Ireland said other factors linked to Covid-19 restrictions were also having an effect.
“Hectic day-to-day schedules mean taking time and having the head space to plan or even think of a break is difficult, particularly for families. Conversations which are catalysts to trip planning aren’t happening,” it noted.
The survey showed that financial concerns were the key motivators among people who had already booked a domestic holiday this year with 44 per cent claiming accommodation costs had influenced their decision to make an early reservation.
Fáilte Ireland has advised providers of accommodation and other tourism services of the need to communicate value due to short accommodation supply and inflated price points.
The survey showed hotels remain the most popular type of accommodation for tourists taking either long or short breaks, although camping and caravans appear a popular option for families.
“The heavy reliance on hotel accommodation further explains lower levels of bookings given it is not known when exactly inter-county travel would be allowed and importantly which hotels will be open once it is,” Fáilte Ireland said.
It has advised the industry to create local partnerships and bundling of tourism offerings as the more experiences seen to be open will make destinations more attractive and less risky for consumers.