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we're off June bank holiday to kick-start €1bn boom for economy as 500,000 expected to travel this weekend

Gardaí and the Road Safety Authority urged people availing of the gradual reopening of hospitality to travel with care

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Staff at the Kingsley in Cork prepare to welcome guests again

Staff at the Kingsley in Cork prepare to welcome guests again

John Coleman, concierge manager, Finola Twomey, director of sales and marketing, Carmel Guihen, GM, and Sean Collins, senior concierge, Fota Island Resort. Photo: Gerard McCarthy

John Coleman, concierge manager, Finola Twomey, director of sales and marketing, Carmel Guihen, GM, and Sean Collins, senior concierge, Fota Island Resort. Photo: Gerard McCarthy

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Staff at the Kingsley in Cork prepare to welcome guests again

The June bank holiday weekend will kick-start a €1bn boost for the pandemic-hit Irish economy as thousands are set to flock to beaches, parks, mountains and beauty spots.

Gardaí and the Road Safety Authority urged people availing of the gradual reopening of the hospitality sector to travel with care and to adhere to all remaining Covid-19 guidelines.

It is estimated more than 500,000 people will travel this weekend to avail of the easing in restrictions and the reopening of some hospitality venues.

Motorists were warned that officers will be enforcing safety campaigns including speed checks over the bank holiday weekend, while Iarnród Éireann advised services will operate at 50pc on-board capacity.

Due to track works, Dart services between Bray and Greystones are suspended this weekend, with rail tickets valid for bus services.

Councils are also working with gardaí to avoid a repeat of large city centre gatherings.

Water Safety Ireland urged people to exercise care by seas, lakes and rivers while the ESB warned people of the dangers posed by swimming in reservoirs.

Hotels opened last Wednesday for bookings with operators saying bookings, while slow to moderate for the June weekend, are now soaring for late June, July and August.

Some hotels indicated that guests had booked for overnight stays this weekend just to avail of a meal out in advance of restaurants reopening for outdoor service next week.

Guesthouse and self-catering groups said they are now 90pc booked for July and August in Irish coastal areas and near tourist attractions.

However, Ireland has seen the emergence of a two-tier hotel sector recovery, with hotels in popular coastal or tourist areas boasting booking levels of 80pc to 90pc for July and August.

In contrast, hotels in urban areas such as Dublin, Cork and Limerick have seen bookings struggle to recover.

Some Dublin hotels have a booking rate of just 10pc for June despite special promotion packages and discounts.

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Restaurants open on Monday, with some city centre venues in Dublin and Cork admitting they are now completely booked for outdoor tables for all Fridays and Saturdays from mid June right until mid August.

Cork hotelier, Fergal Harte, manager of the Kingsley Hotel, said the challenge facing urban-based hotels is greater than for those in coastal or popular tourist areas.

“I think the key for the entire sector is going to be the recovery of the business trade – that is what is crucial for hotels in major cities and towns as well as for the autumn and winter season,” he said.

Ballyseedy Castle Hotel in Kerry is scheduled to host their first wedding this weekend with 25 guests allowed, rising to 50 for weddings in July and then 100 wedding guests in August.

Manager Rory O’Sullivan said everyone at the hotel, which dates its history back to 1721, is thrilled to be back operating.

The hotel is anticipating a very busy July and August.

“Most of our guests up until the pandemic broke out were international or overseas guests with, of course, our important Irish wedding business,” he said.

Neil Grant of the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery said it was “the best feeling ever” to be able to reopen for business.

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