Plan for reopening international travel needed urgently if BnBs are to survive

ireland
Plan For Reopening International Travel Needed Urgently If Bnbs Are To Survive
B&B Ireland represents businesses in the North and Republic of Ireland.
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Muireann Duffy

A representative body for B&Bs across the island is calling for the Government to clarify guidelines for international travellers to Ireland as soon as possible so as not to miss out on bookings from key markets.

Micheál Stapleton from B&B Ireland says measures for international travel for the summer months need to be announced without delay so travellers from countries such as America, who typically plan their trips far in advance, are not lost entirely this year.

While welcoming the announcement that accommodation providers will be able to reopen in the North from May 24th, and from June 2nd in the Republic, he says the international market is the real breadwinner for B&Bs, representing 95 per cent of their business.

“The domestic market isn’t huge for the B&B industry, it’s more an international product that is sold,” Micheál says.

“We’d be worried internationally as, because there isn’t a reopening plan out there yet for international travel, tour operators and agents internationally are offering alternative destinations.”

He says Iceland has seen an increase in bookings from the US following the announcement they would be welcoming international arrivals who are either fully vaccinated or have tested negative for Covid-19, in addition to other European countries like Portugal and Greece.

With over 2,500 businesses registered across the island, Micheál says B&Bs are still thriving in many parts of the country and remain “one of the largest indigenous tourist industries that we have”.

Some of the B&Bs will have virtually no business for the summer if the international market doesn’t open.

However, while some staycation hotspots drew enough domestic visitors to see themselves through last summer, another year without international travellers would be devastating for B&B’s in other parts of the country.

“Some of the B&Bs will have virtually no business for the summer if the international market doesn’t open.

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“Last year, on average, the B&Bs had an occupancy rate of 6 per cent,” he says, adding that while Government supports have helped, many B&B owners have really struggled.

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Micheál explains that while the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) was available to B&B’s, because many owners are over 65, they would not have been entitled to claim both their State pension and the Covid support.

Although B&Bs may be eager to get visitors back through the door, some may be wary of staying in a property that may also be someone’s home, but Micheál is confident the rollout of the vaccine, both here in Ireland and overseas, should put travellers at ease.

Looking forward to the Government’s plans for international travel over the summer months, due to be announced next week, Micheál hopes there will be clear guidelines to allow travellers to visit Ireland safely, and the lobbying group are all in favour of the State’s planned adoption of the EU’s Digital Green Certificate system.

And for those planning on staycationing this year, Micheál urges them to give B&Bs a shot, presenting are a great option if you are looking to try something new. If you're in need of inspiration, the B&B Ireland website is a good place to start, offering plenty of information on everything from farm stays to activity breaks in locations north and south of the Border.

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