A thou-shalt-not-be-named event began two years ago which has greatly limited people’s opportunity to travel. As a result, the global tourism industry has been on its knees. This summer, however, is different: economies are booming, lockdowns have been lifted and more importantly, most of the people in developed countries are vaccinated, and are thus, able to travel abroad. But unfortunately, this may not benefit Ireland’s tourism sector this summer.
The first reason is inflation. Inflation is the increase in prices due to excessive demand, meaning that it will cost much more for people to purchase goods and services. At a more extreme level, these goods will subsequently become unaffordable. This results in increased uncertainty regarding consumers’ willingness to spend.
This applies in our present situation. As consumers have saved more throughout the lockdowns, they have started spending more as the economy has reopened, driving prices up. But we could say that given high inflation, workers will demand higher wages which will balance out their ability to pay for the inflation of goods and services. Correct, but there is unfortunately another problem: the current war between Ukraine and Russia. As a result of the war, the price of oil, among other things, has increased (Crude Oil was selling for the low $90’s per barrel prior to the war. It went as high as $123 but is now speculating around the high 90’s) and as a result of this, household bills and the cost of many consumer products will be higher and people’s willingness to travel abroad declines.
Another, and perhaps a more probable reason, is that people across the globe have not travelled abroad for quite some time and as a consequence, their desire to travel has increased. An example of this is the 3-4 hour ques in Dublin Airport recently (7-9th April). But from this theory, prima facie, it claims that Ireland will have a booming tourism industry in the summer, right? Unfortunately, no.
In the years prior to COVID-19, Ireland’s tourism industry was driven by short-term stays. For example, Ireland’s biggest markets were the UK, US, France, and Germany. These countries, with the exception of the US, are neighbouring countries and within the EU or common travel area. As a result, travel is cheaper and easier than from other destinations. In the case of the US, many visit Ireland because it’s essentially a pitstop on their travels in Europe. Put simply, Ireland is a great destination for short-term get-aways.
Because of not being able to travel abroad for the previous two years, this implies that tourists will want to make up for this with a longer holiday abroad. Unfortunately, long holidays are not one of Ireland’s specialities (it does not have many destinations!) and therefore, we may not witness the influx of tourists like the years prior to the thou-shalt-not-be-named-event. Of course, it would be no surprise to witness an increase in tourists compared to the year prior but claiming that it will have a greater number of incoming tourists than prior to the thou-shalt-not-be-named-event would be an overreach.
However, the tourism industry can be helped by us, the domestic tourists. This summer, if we students are not travelling abroad, it is best to help our beloved industry by purchasing more products, and by more products, I mean going for an extra beer! This can help the hospitality and tourism sector more than you know: it can stimulate employment and also generates more revenue. Further yet, it would be even better to invite some family or friends over to Ireland to help revive the tourism sector through word-of-mouth marketing and potentially help stimulate its industry for years to come!
Wilson Tai – Feature Writer