Boom in holiday home bookings amid COVID crisis

Despite grim tourism prediction this year, one sector that is at least getting some rays of hope is the holiday home sector as bookings soar across south Kerry. Traditionally a popular destination for holiday-makers, this year the county of Kerry is maintaining its popularity with an unexpected influx of domestic tourists to the county and, in particular, holiday homes have begun to see this boost. Searches on AirBnb for holiday homes in South Kerry show the popularity of the destination, and holiday-home owners and managers across the region are reporting a surge in bookings.

Lough Currane Holiday Homes in Waterville are 'heavily booked' from July 20, when people are allowed to travel outside their region and accommodation is allowed to re-open. "We are heavily booked. It is all domestic enquiries.

We had a flux of cancellations from the international perspective with guests saying the uncertainty is not worth it, but domestic tourists want a change of scenery," said Simon Kelly. In total there are 24 houses in the complex and all are almost filled. "From July 20 to the end of August, there are only 11 nights not booked."

He said people that may not have considered a 'stay-cation' before are now looking at the option, and he believes that this market could continue to grow in coming years. Mr Kelly said, like the entire hospitality sector, there are challenges in the holiday-home sector, and in particular guests are raising concerns about the cleaning procedures at holiday homes. Meeting key-holders is another worry raised.

A high standard of cleanliness is going to be more important than ever according to Tony Daly, who is manager of Parknasilla Hotel, which has 62 self-catering houses on site. "We are chock-a-block. We could fill the houses again and again.

It would be busy every year but this is exceptionally busy...We are taken aback by how good it is," he said. He said that September and October are also beginning to look busy too, which may help lengthen this year's season and provide a much-needed boost. "People can't get abroad so now we are getting business we would not normally see.

People are happy to get away and get out and get fresh air." Mr Daly is also a director of Dream Ireland which rents holiday homes across the country, said that 'individual' holiday homes are the most popular along with those that can show a high standard of cleanliness, as this is now a key consideration for customers. Another key concern is the 'meet and greet' scenario upon arrival.

Holiday homes in general, however, allow for easier social distancing, which has helped their popularity this year. Reservations Manager with 35-house Killarney Holiday Village, Breda Brosnahan, told The Kerryman that enquiries and bookings have started to flow in since the Government roadmap was published. "The last couple of weeks, people have begun to think about where they can go.

It will be all Irish tourists, there is definitely a boom in domestic tourism." She said that holiday homes will prove popular as they make it easier to social distance. "There is a boom in domestic tourism.

Up until now it was all cancellations, but Irish are now booking. It is looking more positive. People just want a break from their four walls.

We are getting enquiries for longer stays. It would normally be three or four night stays, but now people are booking for seven nights." Rossbeigh Beach Holiday Cottages, are also seeing evidence of a busy season in August.

"It is the Irish market, but there are bookings coming in. We are hoping for a busy late season to help recoup some of the losses," said Lorranie Cahill. She said that the holiday home popularity is linked to the social distancing requirements as it is easier to be apart from others in holiday homes.

This will prove a key factor and will hopefully be a boost to the county this year.

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