Irish tourism feels “threatened” by American travellers

ireland tourism

Millions of Americans consider Ireland a home away from home. But as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States surges, many Irish businesses say they have been forced to turn away some of their most lucrative customers – vacationing Americans – according to a report by NBC News.

Most visitors to Ireland, including those from the US, have to fill out a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form that includes their contact details while in the country and where they will be staying. They also are required to self-quarantine for 14 days, staying indoors and avoiding contact with other people as much as possible. And for many in Ireland, visitors from the US seem to pose a particularly serious threat, the report said.

Ireland is one of only a few European Union countries still allowing Americans to visit at all. But, with little to no quarantine enforcement on visitors, some Irish business owners say they have had to take matters into their own hands, said the NBC report. Across social media, many have shared similar stories of fending off American tourists who should be self-isolating but are not.

COVID-19 cases have surpassed 5 million in the US, with several states seeing an uptick in the last 14 days.

JP McMahon, a Galway-based chef and restaurateur, says “it’s absolute madness” that flights are still arriving in Ireland from badly hit areas of the United States, such as Texas and Florida.

McMahon can’t check everyone — and ultimately he has to rely on people’s word. “We’re already running at 50% below usual,” he said. “So, we just don’t have the resources to stop every single person and to try and deal with them in a way where you would if you went through passport control in an airport.”

More than 2 million tourists from the US and Canada visit Ireland every year — a $2 billion shot in the arm for a tourism industry that supports the jobs of 325,000 people, the NBC News report said. And despite a sharp fall in those numbers during the pandemic, the Irish government says as many as 250 Americans are still arriving in Ireland every day.