Lack of large hotels in Drogheda has a negative impact on the number of tourists
As the tourism industry begins to see signs of recovery, there are issues that need to be addressed and not all of them are linked to Covid-19.
That’s according to Liam Reilly, secretary of Drogheda on The Boyne Tourism, who runs the local Tourism Board.
“We don’t have housing. We don’t have the hotels, ”he said. “The D is full most weekends, mostly with our own kids. The Boyne Valley is not yet complete. The Westcourt is closed and the Scholars have very limited accommodation.
Mr Reilly added that they cannot promote Airbnb in the tourist office because it is not endorsed by Fáilte Ireland.
“Another big problem we’re seeing is there’s nowhere to change money if you don’t have a bank account.
“It has been going on even since the days of the two Fleadhs.
“People who come in with cash, mostly dollars or pounds sterling, had a very hard time exchanging it and while some places took pounds sterling they didn’t give the differential.
“The nearest bureau de change would be at Dundalk or at Dublin Airport,” Mr Reilly said.
“So we have a lot of issues that we need to sort out. “
Nevertheless, he is starting to get busier and busier in The Tholsel premises.
“It’s starting to come back a bit now, but office calls are only a fraction of what they would normally be.
“For example, the first week of July we had a total of 72 calls to the office. Normally we would be around the 400 mark this week.
The figures for the next two weeks were 81 and 76, which covered the July 12 holiday, which was generally a busy time for visitors to Northern Ireland.
“Before pubs, hospitality and airports reopened, you were more likely to see a unicorn than a tourist!
“With staycations, we welcome a lot of people. When I say a lot, I mean compared to what it was.
“We get a lot of email inquiries about the Boyne Camino Walk. It seems to generate a lot of interest.
Mr Reilly added that there were still many closed or partially closed attractions.
“For example, in Newgrange, you cannot enter the monument. That’s a no-no for people, while the likes of Monasterboice and Mellifont Abbey are ok. It’s very random.
He believed that a lot of people were in the same boat, waiting for things to get back to normal rather than going away.
“Clearing (the pubs) at 11:30 pm isn’t great compared to what you get on the mainland. “
In this regard, he reports very few foreign tourists except for a few American and British callers in the past two weeks.
“It’s going to take a while to come back. “