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05 Oct 2022

Editorial: Kilkenny ready to bounce back from pandemic's tourism lull

KILKENNY ARTS FESTIVAL

Musicians from the Irish Chamber Orchestra playing a surprise pop-up concert under the arches of the historic Tholsel on Kilkenny’s High Street for the Kilkenny Arts Festival

It was troubling to learn this week that Kilkenny was the place most badly affected by a significant crash in the domestic tourism industry during the height of the pandemic but reassuring to see that the city and county are recovering well.

Holiday makers opted for coastal retreats rather than more urban environments such as the Marble City, while others booked flights as soon as travel restrictions were eased.

Pre-pandemic, in 2019, Kilkenny was the eleventh most-visited region in Ireland — but fell to 20th overall last year. The total domestic tourism spend here also plummeted.

For those in the industry, the new report won’t have come as a surprise, but it makes for sobering reading nonetheless.

Thankfully, hotels and B&Bs are now busy once again, and the market is bouncing back. The streets are buzzing with tourist marvelling at our medieval sites. Full coaches of tourists have returned, while Irish families are also taking advantage of the fine summer weather and holidaying here.

The pandemic supports were a help but cannot replace what was lost over the last two difficult years, and it may be two or three more years before pre-Covid levels of tourism are back.

However, with good weather and plenty of events and activities still to look forward to, this year can certainly still be salvaged.

Kilkenny has so much to offer all year round with its award-winning eateries as well as such of Ireland’s most cherished tourist attractions including Kilkenny Castle and St Canice’s Cathedral. Rothe House and Gardens and the Medieval Mile Museum to name but a few. Festivals such as Savour Kilkenny, Kilkenomics and Yulefest should see plenty of footfall over the coming months.

A busy September would make all the difference - and with the return to schools, some parents might take the chance to take a well-deserved short break to the city and county.

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