Is the holiday boom in Northern Ireland over or does the airport problem mean more local holidays?

The great stay boom of 2020 is off to a staggering start.

With flights landing, borders still closed, and people generally worried about leaving their homes for any length of time, the word “staycation” is firmly ingrained in our lexicon.

What was once called a quick city break or glamping trip has been given a whole new name to give the impression that you are going on vacation when in reality you are only a few hours away from your home.

It offered security, comfort and, above all, a form of escape at a time when these things were not guaranteed.

In 2021, enthusiastic travelers and vacationers have had mixed emotions. Are you at risk of a flight being disabled due to the green and red light border system? Or perhaps technical difficulties resulted in you not being able to download the Covid app in time? Or, worst of all, your forgotten passport, expired in the midst of countless lockdowns, not yet delivered in the mail?

Despite all this, people began to vacillate into the unknown and venture abroad.

However, the stay-in-country boom continued, well, boom.

Those in self-isolation who have seen the opportunity to open their own self-catering lodging or glamping pods have seized this chance to welcome visitors not only from all over Northern Ireland but also from the Republic of Ireland and the UK, and some of them have seen the growth of businesses that have they were not. not seen since the 2008 recession.

In 2021, Belfast and Portrush were named by Trip Advisor as one of the Top 10 UK Autumn Travel Destinations.

This summer season, on the other hand, looks a little different.

Vacation packages, international flights, and flying to the sun now look a lot easier than it ever has in a post-pandemic world…or does it?

There may not be masks, social distancing and a traffic light system for entry into countries once banned, but there is another factor – no staff.

In recent weeks, thousands of vacationers have been stranded at airports, either before a flight or in an attempt to return home after a vacation.

Flights were canceled or delayed for a variety of reasons, one of the main ones being technical difficulties, but it was mostly because staff shortages meant that airlines and airports were unable to cope with the abundance of enthusiastic travelers eager to fly into the sun after two years ago. stuck at home.

At the height of the pandemic, the tourism industry was completely destroyed.

Staff were laid off as flights were suspended for extended periods and were therefore left to work elsewhere until the industry returned to pre-pandemic levels.

This has indeed had a major impact on travel in 2022 as the industry struggles to meet the demand of a growing number of keen jetsetters.

But the question remains: is the great holiday boom really officially over now that the foreign travel industry has rebounded (but not as much), or are people still willing to stay at home and enjoy the sights and sounds on their doorstep?

Sandra Korkin, managing director of Oasis Travel, said the recent travel chaos has not deterred a number of determined travelers from flying abroad and that overseas travel has generated “a real buzz.”

“During the pandemic, people wanted to stay put and even just travel around the UK, but this year is really looking forward to getting away in the sun after being unable to travel for the past two years,” she said. Belfast Telegraph.

“Of course it was a slow start to the year because there were still a lot of restrictions in place, but once they were lifted people started booking.

“Because the travel industry has had little to no business since the pandemic, it will take many years for it to fully recover, but it was great to see business returning to normal.”

Sandra, who has over 40 years of experience in the travel industry, said recent bookings – both new and previously delayed – are now at a higher level than before the pandemic.

“Now there is real excitement and desire to travel,” Sandra said.

“Especially to Europe and Mediterranean cruises in particular.”

She added that with recent flight cancellations, holidaymakers are opting for package holidays when booking through an agent.

“There is definitely a demand for Atoll packages because people want to be sure their trip – and money – is protected.

“A lot of people haven’t travelled, so they want to make sure they’re kept up to date with entry requirements and other things.

“Booking through an agent also gives a little more reassurance, if something goes wrong, people will know who to call instead of trying to get through to the airline,” she continued.

“But, despite the delay and cancellation of flights recently, no one has contacted us and said that they are traveling not only because of this; people are missing traveling abroad and looking for new destinations and it’s nice to see that.”

However, one vacation expert believes that staying on site when planning your vacation gives you a better chance of being safe.

Michelle Davis is a freelance marketing consultant who launched her online Instagram blog and Staycations NI website in 2020 as the overseas travel industry began to wind down due to the pandemic.

“I felt that when we were eventually allowed to come out of lockdown a little, but not completely, a lot of people in Northern Ireland really didn’t know much about what was available to them right on their doorstep.” Michelle said.

“I felt that these amazing places, which are mostly tourist oriented, could offer a really great experience for the locals as well, so the idea came up.”

Michelle, who has over 10,000 followers on Instagram, says the boom in staying in the region, while not reaching dizzying heights in summer 2020 or even summer 2021, is still extremely vibrant and still very popular.

“Even before the pandemic, the attitude of people has always been the same. They are always looking for two things when it comes to traveling both domestically and internationally – good value for money and a low risk factor,” she said.

“People want reassurance, which is why people always opt for free cancellation on Booking.com, and while last month I could say that maybe last month people would definitely choose to go abroad for a holiday in the sun rather than “relax “This year, that’s not the case anymore,” she added.

“With all these flight cancellations and chaos at airports, I definitely think it might start to turn people off and now they will start to think twice about what they are going to do during their summer vacation.”

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Giants Road, County Antrim

Michelle told this newspaper that “holiday travel” offers a “safe bet” when you might be traveling with small children or a large family.

“You don’t have to worry about flight cancellations or someone getting sick while on holiday at home and you have the option to explore the whole island of Ireland if you’re from Northern Ireland and people might think it’s a safer bet for the minute , – she said.

“The past two years have also seen a definite increase in the number of visitors from the Republic of Ireland coming to Northern Ireland for holidays.

“While at this time last year most of my followers were from here and only two or three percent were from the Republic of Ireland, that number has now increased to 12%.” Asked how the rising cost of living at the moment is affecting how people spend their money, both on holidays and abroad, Michelle replied that it all comes down to “how people see value.” “Indeed, there is a vacation or vacation for everyone,” she said.

“People may say that a holiday abroad costs the same and in some cases less than a holiday, but it’s all relative. Everyone has a budget and some people might pay £300 for a night in a hotel, but it’s about paying for the experience.

“You can buy a refurbished barn in Co Down for as little as £80 a night and a self-catering lodge in the seaside town for £200, but some of the more expensive places can accommodate up to eight people and are definitely good value for him.”

There were several self-catering homes on the North Shore last summer that could be rented in just one week for thousands of pounds, and rental company Co Antrim says people are still willing to spend money on it.

Keith Walls has been the owner of Causeway Coast Holiday Rentals since 2008.

The company offers over 500 holiday rentals and long-term rentals across the north coast; from Portrush, Portstewart and Portballintra to Castlerock, Ballycastle and Downhill.

“Some of the rents start at £300 for three or four days all the way up to £4,000 a week, but the more expensive houses can accommodate up to three families, about ten people. When you share that, it attracts some people because you don’t have to arrange flights and trips, you just get in your car and go to the north coast for a week.” he said.

He said last year was “unfortunate” for business, on par with bookings made in 2019’s Open Championship year.

“This year we are definitely seeing an increase in the number of foreign visitors who have not been able to travel during the pandemic, especially golfers from the US, Canada and even Dubai and Barbados.”

He added that people are now also booking places outside of the summer season.

“July and August were always full; we could fill our facilities about 20 times as much, but now we are seeing additional bookings in June and September and even January and February,” Keith said.

“The pandemic has allowed people to see what we have to offer; we are now finally on par with coastal destinations across the UK such as Cornwall, Devon and some places in the south of England.

“Now we are catching up with a lot of activities for people like surf schools and water sports so people no longer need to travel overseas for these things when we can do it here on our doorstep.”