Revealed: Ireland’s tourist hotspots have been hit hardest by the Covid pandemic as visitor numbers fall

According to official figures, Kilkenny has suffered a greater drop in domestic tourism than any other part of the country during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A new report published by Fáilte Ireland shows that between 2019 and last year, Kilkenny saw a 76 per cent drop in travel by Irish holidaymakers.

The number of people holidaying in the city and county in 2021 fell to 93,000 compared to the last full tourism year before the pandemic in 2019, when 387,000 local tourists took a break in Kilkenny.

It was the 11th most popular tourist destination in Ireland in 2019 but fell to 20th last year as fewer breaks were made in Laois/Offaly.

Spending by Irish tourists in Kilkenny also fell by 67 per cent to €16m last year – down from €48m in 2019.

Figures are based on a combination of the Central Statistics Office’s Household Travel Survey and Fáilte Ireland’s expenditure estimates.

Other areas that have seen domestic tourist travel and spending fall by about 60 percent since the pandemic include Tipperary, Cavan/Leitrim, Louth/Monaghan and Meath.

Overall, the number of domestic holiday trips fell by 51 percent to almost 5.7 million in 2021, with related spending falling by 40 percent to around 1.3 billion euros.

Fáilte Ireland figures show that the number of domestic holiday trips to Dublin fell by 56 per cent to 783,000 last year, compared with nearly 1.8 million trips in 2019.

Spending by local holidaymakers in the capital fell by 47 percent to 157 million euros in 2021.

While Dublin recorded the most travel from domestic visitors in both 2019 and 2021, tourism receipts in the capital from Irish holidaymakers were only the third highest after Cork and Kerry. This is because people in Dublin take shorter breaks than in other popular tourist regions.

Cork overtook Kerry last year as the wealthiest region for domestic tourism with an estimated income of €167 million. Revenue from Irish visitors taking a break in the Kingdom fell 46 per cent to €162m.

Cork’s relative success has been driven by a more modest decline in overnight stays by local holidaymakers compared to most other main tourist regions.

The number of nights spent in Cork was down just 26 per cent last year compared to 2019 – compared to the national average of 39 per cent.

In contrast, the number of overnight stays spent by local tourists in both Kerry and Dublin fell by 46 per cent last year.

Only one county – Donegal – has seen tourism revenue from Irish holidaymakers increase over the past year.

Figures show spending rose 6 per cent to 103 million euros even though the total number of people taking a domestic break in Donegal fell 35 per cent to 290,000.

The strong performance was largely driven by the fact that local tourists spent an average of two extra days on holiday in Donegal last year compared to 2019.

Fáilte Ireland’s report shows that the average length of a holiday in Donegal was five days in 2021, down from 3.1 days before the pandemic.

The average length of stay increased by over a day in both Clare and Wicklow over the past year.

Meath was the only county in 2021 where the average stay for a domestic break was shorter than in 2019.

On average, Meath vacationers spent just 1.5 days vacationing in 2021, down from 1.8 days before the pandemic.

Tourism: counties hardest hit by Covid

County – Travel – Drop 2021 vs. 2019

Dublin – 783,000 – 56 pcs

Cork – 653,000 – 46pcs

Kerry – 602,000 – 46 pcs

Galway – 573,000 – 47 pcs

Wexford – 378,000 – 54 pcs

Mayo – 319,000 – 52 pcs

Donegal – 290,000 – 35h

Klara – 261,000 – 54 pcs

Kildare/Carlow – 235,000 – 41 pcs

Waterford – 232,000 – 50 pieces

Wicklow – 191,000 – 46 pcs

Limerick – 166,000 – 52h

Sligo – 152,000 – 55 pcs

Cavan/Leitrim – 117,000 – 62 pcs

Louth/Monaghan – 113,000 – 60 units

Westmeath – 112,000 – 47 pcs

Roscommon/Longford – 110,000 – 35h

Tipperary – 104,000 – 62 pcs

Meat – 96,000 – 59 pcs

Kilkenny – 93,000 – 76 pcs

Laois/Offaly – 83,000 – 57 pcs Revealed: Ireland’s tourist hotspots have been hit hardest by the Covid pandemic as visitor numbers fall

Fry Electronics Team

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