Is all this talk of Pennsylvania flipping blue and recounts in Georgia hitting you with a dose of Americana wanderlust?
Over the past weeks, the US election has shed the land of Stars and Stripes under its quadrennial global spotlight. And it’s pretty good tourism exposure - there’s only so many Brian O’Donovan live links you can watch before wishing you were there in DC too.
The Trump administration may have been lampooned as being detrimental to US tourism, but in truth, there was little evidence a of “Trump Slump” from our perspective with Irish visitors to the US growing year-on-year from 2015 to 2019 - 520,000 touching down in America last year. But, with a more internationalist president set for the White House coupled with news of a breakthrough Covid vaccine on Monday, 2021 may well be the year of a “Biden bounce”.
For the Irish travel trade at least, Biden’s election appears to be very welcome news. “For a start, I think it’s good for Ireland having a more open minded president and one that shares many of our values,” says Mary McKenna, managing director of one of Ireland’s most recognised holiday operators, Tour America. “I feel some people were definitely put off going to the USA in the past,” she adds, “but Biden’s election combined with the great news about the vaccine have made this a very good news week.
Back on this side of the Atlantic, the Biden presidency, is also hoped to result in a nice boost for Irish tourism, too. While Obama’s links (namely his great-great-great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney) still put Moneygall, Co. Offaly on the map and spawned the nation’s most famous petrol station, Biden comes with great-great-great grandfathers hailing from both Carlingford and Ballina. But it’s Ballina who seem quicker out of the tourism PR traps with the town’s already iconic mural, created by Padraig ‘Smiler’ Mitchell, blitzing Ballina into a sudden Instagram hot-spot.
“The buzz in the town is fantastic” says Anne-Marie Flynn, manager of Mayo North Tourism. “We’ve had news alerts from every corner of the world and it’s really huge publicity for Ballina.” For Anne-Marie, Biden’s election also offers tourism potential for Mayo’s often bypassed northern coast. “American tourists already love Mayo, but I think with Ballina now being the ancestral home of their president-elect, I think more people will be enticed to venture up to our spectacular north coast. We’ll always welcome our diaspora regardless but we’re really optimistic that Joe Biden will be making a return. And we’ll be thrilled when he does!”
If you’d like a taste of those US deals for 2021, Tour America are offering a seven night getaway in Las Vegas, departing September 1st and staying at the three star Excalibur Hotel right on The Strip for €559pps. For a break in the Sunshine State, €899pps buys a week at Orlando’s Universal Resort, staying at the highly rated Endless Summer Surfside Inn & Suites and including a three park promo ticket (dep. September 16th). Rates also include return flights and baggage, making them pretty sweet deals for those thinking of getaway Stateside.
Could now be a time to take a punt on a flight? Aer Lingus are offering 2021 return fares from Dublin to New York, Boston, Philly and DC from €294 return, with flights from Shannon to Boston and New York from €306 return. With the airline’s new ‘Book with Confidence’ policy, passengers can also change their flight for free until 31 May 2021, they’ll receive a guaranteed voucher if they decide not to travel on a Plus, Smart, Advantage or Flex fare or can receive a cash refund if booked on an Advantage fare. The airline has also typically offered Black Friday deals in recent years, so keep an an eye out on their promotions come the end of the month.
With its stunning location overlooking the River Moy and its high-on-hygge ambiance inside, few hotels offer a cozy winter’s tale like the Ice House in Ballina. The four-star Blue Book member (and sister property of Wineport Lodge in Athlone) is offering a number of festive breaks pending a (fingers crossed) reopening in December, with overnight packages offering a table d’hôte dinner and breakfast from €175pps.
Looking to celebrate the festive season away? The four-star Diamond Coast Hotel, located in Couny Sligo but just 10km from Ballina, are offering their Christmas Stay packages from €419pps. Christmas deals (which start from two night stays) are packed with many of the usual trimmings like mince pies on arrival, button-popping Christmas Day feasts and of course, a visit from Santa. You’ll find few better settings to indulge - located along the stunning 5km Enniscrone beach, the hotel offers the ideal spot for bracing Christmas Day and Stephen’s Day walks too.