It’s going to be far from business as usual for most in the tourism and hospitality sectors this summer but I get the sense there is still a lot of optimism. With limited foreign travel both in and out of the country, can the ‘Staycation’ be enough to save the season? Well that really depends on who you ask. ‘Summer Reservations’ has spoken to businesses big and small about their hopes and fears, as well as getting a real sense of how difficult the last 15 months have been during lockdown and as COVID restrictions ebbed and flowed.
As a UTV reporter who has covered many of the twists and turns during this pandemic, I often spoke to industry representatives on a particular news development or move by the Stormont Executive.
Filming this programme was an opportunity to get a greater understanding of the trials and tribulations of those who in many cases watched the companies they built began to slip through their fingers.
Trevor Kane, Bayview Hotel owner talks about his hopes for the summer.
Certainly, by most accounts, local hospitality is set for a bumper summer, but there are still very serious concerns around social distancing and the expenses of other mitigations, not to mention juggling the debt many in the sector have been forced to sustain. On top of all that, and despite the success of the vaccination roll-out, COVID variants continue to present a very real threat to recovery.
International tourism is worth millions to the Northern Ireland economy annually. It’s uncertain how much of that spend can be recouped this Summer.
One of the last days of filming was on the North Coast during the May Bank Holiday weekend. I was struck by the number of people who told us they were quite happy to holiday at home, citing the confusion, anxieties and worries around travelling abroad. We hope to unpack what this summer season will look like, who’s set to gain and who still has a long road ahead to just break even. And as you can imagine, despite the programme being about summer, we managed to capture all the seasons the good old Northern Ireland weather can throw at you.
'Up Close - Summer Reservations' will be on Friday 25th at 9pm, or you can catch-up online.