Today was a wonderfully successful day of being tourists in Ireland. We went to the iconic Cliffs of Moher after a rather long haul from the East coast of Ireland to the West, but it was totally worth it. The Cliffs were absolutely breathtaking and like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We were one group of hundreds of other tourists. I felt as though I was around more tourists at the Cliffs than any other place we’ve been thus far. I heard more languages being spoken, and a higher percentage of Americans there—someone came up to us and said she went to Pitt! Very small world we live in.
Tourism is clearly a huge part of the Irish economy. We’ve learned a lot about how Ireland has had a rocky economic history, and I think tourism has played a large part in their rebuilding and current economic success. People that are able to visit must have at least some disposable income, if not a lot of disposable income, to spend on Irish businesses; therefore stimulating the economy even more. You can tell you’re in a touristy area when there are a lot of “American” cuisine restaurants, shops for Irish souvenirs, different tour companies and things of that nature. Almost everywhere we go, the overall environment seems to be catered to tourists. Tourism brings a lot of revenue to any country, and it’s clear that it’s played an integral role in the Irish economy.
COVID-19 put a halt on tourism, especially internationally, for quite some time. Almost everywhere we have been going is what you would consider a “touristy area”, and these places have been packed with people. It’s wild to think about the streets being empty and businesses being closed, even within the last year. A lot of the working class in Ireland’s livelihood depends on tourism. For example, Irish citizens aren’t going to buy things from a souvenir shop, so with no one coming to visit during the pandemic, these types of businesses took the hardest hit. The working class really is the backbone of any economy, and this reigns true for Ireland, especially given the amount of tourists that visit each year. After many months of lockdown and quarantine, it has been refreshing to see the world returning to normal and tourism starting up again.