Laois might get a tourism boost from Irish people choosing 'staycations' following the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Laois County C0uncil's Tourism Officer .
Dom Reddin believes the county could gain vital income from people holidaying at home in Ireland due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic threat.
“Because of the restrictions people will want to stay at home more for holidays, and they won’t have the same money to spend. It is an opportunity for us to showcase what Laois has to offer,” Mr Reddin said.
Laois attractions include Emo Court, the Rock of Dunamaise, Donaghmore Famine Workhouse, Heywood Gardens, Timahoe Round Tower and the Slieve Bloom mountains which now boast the new mountain bike trails.
“When the restrictions ease and we get back to life as we knew it in some manner the county has some of the best walks, attractions and things to do when you stop to see what’s on offer.
“The accommodation and food is of a very high standard and with foreign travel likely to be restricted local people will now be likely to look locally for an alternative to travelling abroad.
“The emphasis is on keeping everyone safe and healthy and Laois has an abundance of places to allow people to get out and about while still practicing social distancing as will be required for the foreseeable future.
“Also, it is unlikely we will have visitors arriving from oversees but we will welcome the Irish holidaymakers to the county as soon as the crisis is over. We encourage people as they always have done to continue to support local businesses, buy local from local food and drink producers, eat locally and visit the Laois gardens when they open for business, and work collectively to help us all come through these challenging times,” Dom Reddin said.
He added that the Laois Tourist Office may be opened for longer hours to help boost tourism.
Laois County Council reopened the office in Portlaoise after it was closed by Fáilte Ireland some years ago. While currently closed under Covid-19 restrictions, it is normally opened for three days a week but closed at lunch and weekends.
“It is in the early stages, it could be developed to have it open on Saturdays as that is when tourists are around,” he said.
The office was moved in 2019 from Lyster Square to the Dunamaise Arts Centre.
“It was relocated on a trial basis. We found that footfall was very slow. Traders felt it would get better footfall in the centre,” said Mr Reddin.
Laois Tourism launched a new website in February that promotes attractions, arts, heritage, towns, festivals, outdoor activities and events. See www.laoistourism.ie
The council also supported the recent RTE show Great Irish interiors which featured Emo Court by the OPW. Tourism Grants Scheme also part funds many Laois festivals.