What is a Self-Catering Business in Ireland

Best in Mayo

Vacation Rental.  Short Term Rental. Register. Most in Demand  Holiday Accommodation.

What is a Self-Catering Business?

Best in Donegal

Fanad Lighthouse is one of many with Self-Catering rentals

A Self-Catering business involves one or many vacation homes, including heritage homes, thatch cottages, and glamping run in a professional manner, with such businesses members of a national federation. The Irish Self-Catering Federation is made up of individual members large and small who own or manage properties that are rented for short periods of time, from 3 days to 2 weeks on average. These are an important part of family income for many people who incur various costs in running their self-catering businesses. Self-catering properties contribute significantly to their local economy and many are located in rural areas which may not have much other investment. The Irish Self-Catering Federation has developed a diagram of the EcoSystem  (below) showing the benefits to the local economy and the sales channels for owners in Ireland.

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Newgrange Entrance Stone, in Co Meath


High standards of accommodation and its management are fundamental to the ethos of the Irish Self-Catering Federation. The Irish Self-Catering Federation assesses properties to award Quality Assurance Certification. People take pride in their businesses and can display their awards on their properties. Properties are contracted for sale directly with guests, through marketing agents, travel agents, Online Travel Agents (OTAs), and other online platforms. For most owners, the high season has sold well but there is still a lot of availability in the shoulder seasons. There are also cancelations due to Covid and other issues in 2022 – so it is well worth contacting the owners directly in case they have availability.


Holiday Home versus Self Catering

Holiday homes differ from self-catering in that they are privately owned by families for their use or for other family members and many may only be occupied for a few weeks of the year. In recent years some owners have put such holiday homes on online sales platforms such as AirBnB. As many are not professionally run there have been complaints about such ‘independent’ enterprises which are not necessarily within the tax compliance regulation. In a search on this platform, there were over 200 properties available for rent in the Dingle area. Rent Pressure Zones were developed in Ireland to deal with the excess provision of unregulated short-term rental accommodation in urban areas in Ireland since 2018, with details listed here. 


Best in Donegal

THatched 2 story house in Donegal


Holidays in 2022 – 80% Want to Stay in Self-Catering 

ISCF Chair Maire ni Mhurchu took part, by Zoom, in the Greek Self-Catering Federation conference which took place in Athens on 12th April.   The statistics on the contribution of the self-catering sector to the Greek economy were stark at the conference in Athens on 12/04/2022.  Due to Covid the Short Term Rental (STR) sector has become the fastest-growing sector of the tourism market in Western Europe and the US, probably because people see it as a safer option. In 2005 15% of travelers wanted to stay in self-catering, this rose to 40% pre-pandemic and now 80%  of holidaymakers are looking for a vacation rental, according to Simon Lehman at the Greek Bed and Breakfast Conference this week.  Carlos Perez of the Spanish Federation said 47% of customers would now choose STR holiday homes and this rises to 65% for families. Urban destinations will recover more slowly than rural and coastal areas. There is also a trend for longer stays with Digital Nomads making up a new and exciting longer stay market. Self-Catering/ Vacation Rentals / STR is here to stay and will go from strength to strength in this decade all over the western world.

Vacation Rentals Ireland

Self-Catering Eco-System in Ireland      (Self-Catering Eco-System)

A Register for Self-Catering

A register for all short-term rentals is being discussed at the EU level with recommendations being delivered to each government by the summer. This register will create a common market for the STR sector and will benefit all members as the single market area has done for goods and services. The ability of self-catering owners to work together will strengthen the industry, allow for collaboration and knowledge sharing and develop a more professional industry.

The income from vacation rental has increased and we need Price Management Solutions to help develop clear pricing and costing for the businesses. At the conference, it was mentioned that the Greek tax authority insisted that the Online Travel Agents (OTAs such as VRBO, HomeAway, AirBnB) are all now tax compliant and are the best example of such a register in the EU.



There are many changes in life and travel due to Covid. Tourism has been seriously affected during the past 2 years of Covid but all travelers agree that relaxing in a safe, comfortable, and individual vacation rental is the way to holiday in 2022 and in the next decade. The era of Self-Catering has arrived, and a register across the EU gives a level playing field to all providers of such accommodation within a regulatory structure.

View the PDF of the  Self-Catering Eco-System 

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