A SAFE FIRST STEP IN THE RE-OPENING OF OUR TOURIST ECONOMY

A SAFE FIRST STEP IN THE RE-OPENING OF OUR TOURIST ECONOMY 

Presented by:

Irish Self-Catering Federation (ISCF),   Ireland’s Association for Adventure Tourism (IAAT), Irish Caravan & Camping Council (ICC) and Irish Boat Rental Association (IBRA)

The four stated tourism associations have drawn up this submission to make a case for a safe first step in re-opening the tourist economy, which will lead out in the wider tourism industry’s recovery.

We fully support the Government’s decisions to protect the health of our nation and we are grateful to them for the support measures they have introduced throughout this pandemic. All four tourism associations support and promote to its member’s adherence with the Fáilte Ireland/HSE operational guidelines and the Fáilte Ireland Covid Safety charter.

However, the ‘Covid-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021’ plan does not take into account the different risks of infection presented by the different types of business and customer segments, some of which could be allowed operate in an earlier phase. This is acknowledged in the England phased reopening roadmap which has leisure stays in different types of accommodation being permitted gradually alongside the phased reopening. It prioritises outdoor activity and self-contained accommodation to reopening at Step 2 while accommodation that relies on the shared use of indoor facilities reopens in step 3.

OUR OBJECTIVE:

Certain tourism sectors like outdoor activities and self-contained accommodations – namely the Outdoor Activity providers, Caravan & Camping Parks, Boat rental holidays and Self-Catering sectors – lend themselves naturally to safe, secure holidays and it seems counter-productive that they have been included with other shared accommodation providers.

Attention should be given to allowing these businesses to reopen for domestic visitors in phase 3 and allow inter-country travel to their businesses in the mid-May review. This would be particularly beneficial to the regional economy which has been devastated by Covid-19 restrictions.

Permitting outdoor activities and self-contained accommodations to re-open in a safe manner enables these sectors to deliver a safe tourism package that is both a good news story for the Government, as well as being a safe first step in the re-opening of our tourism economy. Businesses in these sectors have a significant national spread across every county in Ireland. Re-opening of the offerings stated will also support safe, hospitality offerings available locally.

 

 

The ISCF 

The Irish Self-Catering Federation represents a wide range of owners, group owners and marketing companies selling self-catering accommodation in the Irish Market. Members are presently closed to level 5 and can open at Level 3. Self-Catering was considered by most people to be the safest method of holiday accommodation in 2020 and and the same holds for 2021. There is heavy demand for the accommodation as a result. In the UK Self-Catering has been given re-opening date, 6 weeks before the hotels are allowed to re-open.

Why Self Catering 

The Irish Self-Catering Federation represents Self-Catering in Ireland which is a strong viable accommodation offering and the main type of accommodation along the Wild Atlantic Way supporting many micro-businesses. As a result, we would like to be included in the Covid-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021 Document and all other government documents as a sector rather than an ‘etc.”. This will ensure the sector is considered a viable tourism product worthy of serious consideration and support.

Safety in Self-Catering Accommodation

* The people who have most closely adhered to lockdown restrictions are retirees and the
elderly, many of whom are now vaccinated. These people will travel in a bubble from their homes to self-catering accommodation and remain in those bubbles whether in Wexford or Westport.
* All Self-Catering owners in the ISCF have been advised to take the Covid-19 Safety Charter, ensuring they meet the highest safety standards. We accept a family in a bubble unit for the duration of their stay. The properties have stringent cleaning and Covid-19 safety protocols which must be adhered to between each booking.
* Those older people who have been vaccinated are in need of a holiday where they feel safe and secure, and this would be the case if we opened up in May, while most families are tied to school holiday dates.

Re-Opening 

Members of the ISCF have provisional bookings from Irish customers from May onwards. The shoulder seasons of April to June and September to October are traditionally booked by the older retired population. This is the case for 2021 – if only we can re-open. We request that:-
* Re-opening in early May is granted for retirees and those who have been vaccinated. This will give a boost to the older retired people who have been locked down at home for the past 12 months.

* Re-opening in Early May will boost the local economies of rural areas and allow a gradual re- opening of the communities in these areas, generating much needed income for small businesses.
* The majority of those who will travel to the Self-Catering accommodation in rural areas from cities see it as a safe and secure way to travel in their own cars. We would ask for inter-county travel to be allowed for these people who have pre-booked and paid for accommodation. They can carry evidence of their booking with them when travelling.

* We also need clarity on who can stay in our properties this summer as some owners have UK customers already booked to staying July onwards – so please advise on what we say to these customers, many of whom drive over from the UK.

The following are examples of packages that the stated sectors can deliver safely through minimal touch-points in outdoor environments with strict adherence to operational guidelines.

PACKAGE 1: A family of 5 participate in a half-day of outdoor activities at a Cork adventure centre, staying at a local caravan park in their own self-contained campervan and take advantage of local restaurant takeaway services.

PACKAGE 2: A household group of four adults rent a boat on the Shannon in Westmeath. They stop in Athlone to participate in kayaking activities during the day (separated from any other groups in the outdoors) and stay overnight on the boat. They can take advantage of restaurant takeaway services or purchase food locally to cook back on the boat.

PACKAGE 3: A couple join other separated groups for a bike tour in Dublin city and stay locally at a self-contained self-catering accommodation. They choose to bring takeaway back to the property.

PACKAGE 4: In Sligo, a family of 4 participate in horse-riding in the morning, get takeaway for lunch time and then participate in surf lessons in the afternoon. They cook dinner in their mobile home.

Package 5: Stay in a Self-Catering house in countryside overlooking Dunmanus Bay. Walk the Sheep’s Head route in the morning, collect a take away meal from restaurant in Bantry. Go on a night sea kayak after 9pm.