Ireland on track to welcome all, says taoiseach, while noting that vaccinations, tests will come first

DUBLIN – On Friday, as the European Union was recommending lifting its ban on nonessential travel for visitors from the United States, Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin confirmed that foreign travel is "on target" to return on July 19, noting in a news conference that the country 

will sign onto the Europe-wide Digital Green Certificate, which will allow cross-border travel to return for those who are fully vaccinated or can provide a negative test result.

The Taoiseach added that Ireland is on track to allow foreign travel to return as planned, beginning July 19, telling reporters: "As we move on, more data and more research give us greater confidence in terms of the decision making around Covid and around reopening society.

"The 19th of July is some weeks away yet,” he said, “but we are certainly on target to be a part of the European framework in terms of the Covid Digital Certificate, which I think is an important milestone, and also gives a signal to the aviation industry that things are getting better for them as well.

"Because we do from an Irish perspective understand the centrality of aviation to the connectivity issue, Ireland is a small open economy and connectivity is very important in terms of the growth of that economy."

“There is no real evidence that there is a significant issue here,”Martin said, “ but we are appealing to people that when you get the call to get the second vaccine to take it up, because it will give you protection, it will give your family protection, and it will give wider society protection. The uptake rate has been very positive and from our perspective we want to maintain that.”


While the European bloc means to take a coordinated approach to travel this summer, its recommendations are nonbinding, with each  member state allowed to set their own requirements.

In anticipation of the reopening in July, Tourism Ireland has launched a $4.2 million promotional campaign to build anticipation for holidays in Ireland this summer, with phase one involving a major digital video campaign. Called “Let's Get Back to Ireland,” the online video will build anticipation for travel to the ould sod. It will be promoted via online video platforms on social media, mobile devices in nine different markets, including the United States.

Said Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland: "We are delighted to unveil our new campaign which will help build anticipation for trips to Ireland this summer, among holidaymakers in our key overseas markets. We know from our research that there is significant pent-up demand among overseas visitors to return to Ireland as soon as possible. 

“However, we also know that there will be significant competition, as every destination across the globe has experienced the impact of Covid and will be seeking their share of the recovery. As international travel begins to restart, the priority for Tourism Ireland will be to keep the island of Ireland front and center in consumers' minds. Our kick-start campaign will need to punch through the noise and create an immediate desire to visit."
Before the pandemic, overseas tourism had recorded nine consecutive years of record growth, with 2019 surpassing all previous records when Ireland welcomed 11.3 million overseas visitors to its shores. Two million of those global visitors were from North America, delivering revenue of around $2.3 billion for the Irish economy that year. 

With Ireland set to reopen its doors to international travelers on July 19, both the five-star Merrion Hotel in the heart of Dublin and the 800-year-old five-star Ashford Castle in County Mayo are ready to welcome American guests again. 

The Merrion has introduced an opportunity to reconnect with nature with the Wicklow Wellness Experience. Guided by an ecotherapy expert, guests will spend the morning forest bathing in the Knocksink Nature Reserve, located just 40 minutes from Dublin. The Merrion has also recently introduced its very own non-alcoholic Irish spirit, called Artonical, a distilled non-alcoholic gin made with natural botanicals including juniper, angelica root, lemon, orange and grapefruit. At Ashford Castle, Executive Chef Philippe Farineau has been busy foraging on the 350-acre estate, picking wood sorrel, violet flowers, wild garlic and Irish strawberries to use in signature dishes and cocktails. The summer months are the perfect time to take advantage of the countless activities on the grounds, including kayaking, biking, fishing, falconry, golfing, stand-up paddle boarding and zip-lining.

For more on travel in Ireland, click here and here for Judy Enright's most recent Traveling People Columns.