The early days of March in Ireland are cold and frosty but there is an expectancy in the air as the days begin to stretch out and the prospect for a good spring and summer season bring some optimism to a beleaguered Ireland travel industry. As with many sectors of the Irish economy, travel and accommodation have been particularly affected by the free fall in the fortunes of Ireland Inc.
The last three years have seen the demise of the once thriving engine of the construction industry which employed hundreds of thousands of jobs and vast amounts of revenue to the Government coffers. The catalyst for all this was the decade old property bubble that burst with enormous casualties in 2008. The resulting mayhem brought down banks, collapsed property prices and propelled Ireland from being one of the wealthiest countries in the world to one of the poorest, requiring the intervention of the IMF and EU to rescue it. This came at a crippling cost that will be paid by the citizens for generations to come in the form of heavier taxes and reduced social services.
But the Irish are nothing if not resilient in the face of adversity. Optimism is a virtue that is abundant in Ireland. Having just thrown out the incompetent Government that overseen all the chaos, it feels like the start of new dawn in which the people dust themselves down and proceed to start all over. Nowhere is this more evident than in the tourism business which has the potential to rescue the country from the current problems that engulf it.
St Patrick’s Day on March 17th heralds the start of the new tourist season running forth to September and early October. Ireland has a huge diaspora dissipated all over the world and it is this that travel chiefs are banking on the support of to be a saviour of Irish tourism in the coming years. The success of tourism could partly, at least, compensate for the losses in other industry areas. Travel and hospitality are by their very nature labour intensive and generate jobs on a much higher ratio to investment than construction or financial services, for example.
For travelers to Ireland, the crisis in the economy presents great opportunities in value holidays and vacations. Rates of hotel and other types of accommodation have been slashed compared to the past where the country was regarded as being expensive to stay in. Dublin hotels, which were notorious in the past for excessive pricing, are now much more affordable.
Dublin offers so many attractions to the visitor to Ireland and the bustling city is also an excellent base from which to explore other regions of the country. St Patrick’s Day in Dublin is now actually a week of celebrations and provides a super opportunity to discover all the wonderful aspects of Irish heritage, music and culture as well as having a ball meeting the witty and indefatigable ordinary Dublin people who are most genuine and sincere in their welcome for visitors.
St. Patrick’s Day opens the door to the Irish tourist season. Why not step inside?