HOLIDAYMAKERS looking for cheaper getaways should target trips on new routes opened up by airlines, a travel guru has revealed.
He also suggested avoiding popular hotspots and opting for locations “off the beaten track”.
Travel expert Fergal O’Keeffe said demand for foreign holidays has taken off as people saved up “two years or three years worth of summer holiday funds” during the pandemic.
He also warned that the cost of holidays are on the rise across the board due to inflation.
Speaking to the Irish Sun, he said: “This demand will have an impact on price, but prices are likely to go up for other factors as well. One thing that I’ve already noticed is the cost of car hire has gone unbelievable.
“I am planning to go to Greece during the summer, and for six of us the car hire for two weeks was going to cost over double the price of the flights for six.
“So that’s going to be a major issue everywhere because during the pandemic these companies weren’t renewing, or even sold off stock. So that’s something that people need to be aware of.”
He said: “My recommendation would be to go off the beaten track.
“For my own personal holiday, I noticed that flights to Athens in Greece were a little bit more expensive than pre-Covid, so I decided to go to Thessaloniki, which is the second biggest city in Greece. This was way cheaper.
Most read in The Irish Sun
“The cost was roughly two-thirds the price of flying to Athens, even though it’s further from Ireland. So by going to places that are off the beaten track, you will be able to make massive cost savings.
Publican Fergal, who owns Hearns Hotel in Clonmel, continued: “Something else that I would always recommend to people is to look at airline’s new routes.
“Each year Ryanair has new routes going from Dublin, Shannon or Cork, and the first year of those new routes on Ryanair, or even on Aer Lingus, are always cheaper because they’re trying to introduce and encourage people to go to these places.
“These routes are new to Ireland so they’re less popular, meaning they’re cheaper, but also when you get there, more often than not things like accommodation and food etc are also a lot cheaper as well.”
Offering some alternative locations suggestions, Fergal said Malta is “a beautiful place” that’s “very accessible”, and has the benefit of being “English speaking”.
He also offered some European alternatives to the likes of the Canaries or Costa Del Sol.
He said: “There’s some beautiful places in northern Spain, like San Sebastian. Or you could try Biarritz, in France. They have amazing food, there’s great walking there, lovely coasts, so being a little bit more imaginative like that could be just what is needed.”
He continued: “Sardinia is another place that I would really love. It has that Italian influence, but it is also very different from other parts of Italy.
“But the top places I’d recommend would be Puliga, in southern Italy. There’s flights to Bari, and from there you can go down to Puliga.
“That’s an area that is not very popular but weather wise it’s amazing, and it’s really cheap. And the beach areas are amazing.
“Another place – and it’s my favourite place actually – is the Peloponnese Peninsula, in Greece. It has absolutely spectacular mountains, stunning little seaside villages, and it is very reasonably priced.”
IMPROVE OUTDOOR TOURISM
Asked if made tourism minister what he would do to beef up the country’s offerings to tourists, Fergal said he would make greater use of Ireland’s great outdoors.
He explained: “There’s a massive shift towards outdoor tourism. Due to the pandemic, there is a trend towards people being outdoors more, and people have a greater emphasis towards being healthy and being out walking etc.
“So looking at the mountains in Clonmel, or in Kerry they could be utilised more. What other countries do, because I’ve done this in New Zealand and in the Alps etc, is they have huts in the mountains. The Government provides these and you walk from hut to hut for a few days.
“Imagine that was set up in Clonmel. People would spend three, four, five days up in the Comeragh Mountains, walking around there, staying in huts.
“So the Government should be providing that infrastructure, like the huts, the walking trails etc. I think that’s a huge potential for outdoor tourism that hasn’t been fully tapped in Ireland.
“People would spend some money in the town before heading up the mountain ranges, they would then spend money again when they come back down.