Something north of 11m tourists visited Ireland last year. These visitors generating almost €6bn for our economy, a figure increased significantly by domestic tourism. If the money spent by Irish people in bars and restaurants at home holiday resorts is added to the total then the huge importance of tourism, international and domestic, to our economy and employment can hardly be overstated. That business has more or less fallen off a cliff. Job losses, holiday and flight cancellations, canceled wedding celebrations too, are the order of the day. No industry could withstand that huge change.
A report from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) shows that our tourism sector is not in any way different to their international peers. C19 has placed the whole world on lockdown, 100% of global destination have travel restrictions in place while 72% have completely closed their borders to international tourism.
UNWTO warns: “Tourism has been the hardest hit of all the major sectors... Tourism is a lifeline to millions, especially in the developing world. Opening the world up to tourism again will save jobs, protect livelihoods and enable our sector to resume its vital role in driving sustainable development.”
Anyone looking at an empty bookings diary in Kinsale, Dingle or Galway will not need to have that collapse explained to them. One of the tings we do to get through these challenging days is to imagine what a holiday in the faraway sun will be like when the crisis passes. Maybe we should modify that hope and plan an Irish holiday to help a sector, and its employees, struggling for its very survival.