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Eoghan Corry Talks Travel – April 2023

Flash sales, lack of hotel beds, and why are we still booking with middlemen not based in Ireland? Eoghan Corry talks travel this month. 

Tourists are coming, but will there be enough beds? Eoghan Corry has some thoughts on what our government should do about it. Airlines and airports both miscalculated Easter, so should we expect more flash sales? London based agency Felix holidays forces Irish holidaymakers to pay on the double in resort – will we ever learn? All this and more as Eoghan Corry shares this months travel talking points – what we learned, what’s new and what’s next…
 

 

 

What’s new:

Kos in Greece is one of the new holiday destinations from Ireland for 2023
Kos

This month’s new aviation routes are:

  • Belfast City to Jersey (Emerald, May 6)
  • Belfast international to Valencia (Ryanair, May 1)
  • Derry to Heathrow (Loganair, May 6)
  • Dublin to Brest (Emerald, May 20)
  • Dublin to Brindisi (Ryanair May 2, Aer Lingus May 27)
  • Dublin to Burgas (Ryanair, May 2)
  • Dublin to Cleveland (Aer Lingus, May 19)
  • Dublin to Kos (Aer Lingus and Ryanair, both May 2)
  • Dublin to Olbia (Aer Lingus, May 2)

Read: New holiday destinations from Ireland in 2023

An exciting new visitor attraction, the zipline at Tibradden wood also opens this month.

Just open for a few weeks is the biggest hotel development of the year, the 393-bed Travelodge Plus on Townsend Street in Dublin City Centre.
 

 

 

Rooms need brooms

kerry walking holidays for solo travel in ireland

This should be the month of the big return of Irish hotel beds to tourism from government contracts, but exactly how many are coming? Unless a large number are released the price will soar for what is left for tourists.

In April there were still 180,414 beds lost to the industry, representing 28% overall and 32% of those outside Dublin, although those numbers are supposed to decrease before the summer peak. Getting the beds back is only the first step. Making them tourist ready is proving an expensive and arduous process.
 

 

 
Tourists come in numbers to five counties and a big proportion of those beds are not available, Dublin (14.2%), Kerry (36.8%), Cork (27.6%), Galway (14.0%) and Clare (41.2%). Donegal (53.4%) is even higher, as are midlands counties which work off low bases. What to do?
 

 

 
A government agency should be appointed to purchase the dozens of defunct hotels in our towns, the bottom feeding two and three star hotels that have fallen out of the game for various reasons, some of them shining stars of the 1980s and 1990s.

Government measures to shut down self catering and AirBnb alternatives should also be halted. But decisions on these seem to have fallen through the cracks, as happens so often with Ireland’s tourism industry and its liqourice allsorts government department.
 

 

 

Booking later for a hotter summer

ryanair

Airlines and airports both miscalculated Easter, which shows us that Irish people are combining perambulation with procrastination. Our drift towards booking later and later predates the pandemic, but in the last two years it has reached ridiculous levels on some routes, with aircraft largely unsold three weeks before departure and consumers waiting until 48 hours before travel to make their decisions.
 

 

 
Airlines responded by putting inflated summer prices into the system and playing cat and mouse despite an occasional baiting game to beat the waiting game, flash sales and low deposits. Even Ryanair have entered the deposit business, until now the preserve of travel agents, with their family fare incentives.

Read: Book Ryanair flights with 50% deposit
 

 

 
Among those confused by it all is the new CEO of Dublin airport, Kenny Jacobs. He says the hotspots of the summer, unlike last year, will not include security queues at Dublin, which is reportedly staffed up for all eventualities, but concedes temperatures might rise a little in the baggage hall.

The airport also expects to have passed all regulatory requirements to allow fire service staff at Dublin Airport to use anti-drone technology after the regulators slowed things down at Easter.
 

 

 
The one place we really need to book early is the car park. Those missing 4,500 Quickpark spaces are not coming back into the system anytime soon. There is an option. Look elsewhere.

Much was made of Dublin airport’s growth in March, up just over a percentage point on 2019, but the real growth is in other Irish airports. Shannon is up 25.8pc, Cork airport is up 3.3pc. Knock is the exception, down 9.4pc.
 

 

 

Unlearned lesson: abroad holidays booked abroad.

Eoghan Corry reminds us to book with travel agencies licensed in Ireland

Consumer protection in the holiday business is some of the strongest and most robust of any industry, but you would not know it by listening to the airwaves. This is thanks to one of the unlearned lessons of the pandemic.

We seem to have forgotten the trail of woe attempting to recover money spent on websites in Florida and Connecticut, and the complication of Brexit’s abrogation of consumer rights.
 

 

 
Despite everything that happened, consumers continue to book with middlemen not based in Ireland. London based agency Felix holidays is just the latest to run into cash flow problems and leave hotels unpaid, which means Irish holiday makers have been arriving in sun spots are being asked to pay on the double for accommodation.

It works like this: an Irish travel agent lodges 10% of his turnover in a fund to make sure nobody gets stranded abroad or caught for the cost of a lost holiday. Internet embezzlers do not.
 

 

 

The world cup scrum

Eoghan Corry discusses the Rugby World Cup

Ryanair came in from the side with a press release offering 51k extra world cup seats, 4k of them to and from Ireland. With 20k fans (at least) expected to travel this will have little impact on runaway air fares which are already €400 each way to Paris in September.

One great alternative is the ferry: where apparently the offside law does not apply, cars can be filled with fellow fans and boots can be filled with wine on the return.
 

 

 
Sports events with knockout phases are ridiculously difficult to plan (remember all those Irish fans singing Fields of Athenry at Argentina v Australia in 2015?).
 
Whether Ireland will be even be playing in the first three weekends in October will require an improvement on our dismal world cup record. Over to you, Ross Byrne, son of Pat Byrne of Cityjet, the man who can bring a smile to Irish fans, aviators and Abbey Travel’s match ticket sales.
 

 

 

Clare the air

 Cliffs of Moher

Shannon, an airport and investment agency, got into the tourism business by accident. Getting out of it seems equally accident prone, especially when Clare and Limerick county councils saw the state of the visitor attractions they were being asked to take over.
 

 

 
A solution of sorts has now been found. Taxpayers will pay €6m to fund the transfer of Bunratty, Knappogue Castle, Craggaunowen Bronze Age Park and a Cliffs of Moher to Clare county council. Getting the castles back into shape will cost €15m over three years, according to a 2021 report. Battlements can still cause battles, it appears.
 

 

 

Very Inverin good.

Aran Islands

En route to TG4 we stopped by at Indreabhán to check progress at Ireland’s smallest airport. Inverin was almost abandoned in the teens to be replaced by a helicopter service from Galway to the islands, but is back in business, was purchased by Udarás na Gaeltachta in 2019 and has a new service area under construction.

Worryingly, numbers declined 25pc immediately before the pandemic. Will Banshees bring them back toward the peak of 21,345 in 2016? We hope so.
 

 

 

Heathrow back in fashion

Heathrow airport

First Knock, now Derry. Direct flights from Derry’s ailing airport to Heathrow was not something on anyone’s radar at the start of the year. Jonathan Hinkles, the CEO of Scottish airline Loganair thought otherwise, and conjured some slots out of the post Flybe uncertainty to offer an Embraer E145 service three times daily, and twice daily at weekends.
 

 

 
This should be good for Derry after ten years of decline from passenger numbers that once exceeded 400k. It also shows that slots at Heathrow are no longer as hard won as they once were.
 

 

 
Aer Lingus have already transferred their Knock service to Gatwick to Heathrow. Is Heathrow a help or a hindrance? To read the glowing press releases form both airlines, the spidermap of Heathrow’s American and Asian connections will help fill these flights. But airport charges at Heathrow are notoriously expensive, up to €60 per passenger (although not at Derry or Knock times), and liable to gobble up the savings to be made at regional airports.
 

 

 
Missed last month’s post?

Read: Eoghan Corry talks travel March 2023

Eoghan Corry

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