Early school start hits tourism earnings by 10pc


Sophie Turley (4), from Forkhill, enjoying the heatwave earlier this summer at Blackrock beach in Co Louth. Photo: Arthur Carron
Sophie Turley (4), from Forkhill, enjoying the heatwave earlier this summer at Blackrock beach in Co Louth. Photo: Arthur Carron

The early start of the school year is hitting tourism in rural parts of Ireland.

One Fine Gael senator wants a re-think on opening schools before the first week in September because of the impact on the vital tourism economy in some regional areas.

Senator Tim Lombard said there is now evidence that opening the school year a week earlier, from August 27 this year, is now hitting rural areas, which are massively dependent on tourism.

“Since the school year was revised a couple of years ago, many involved in the tourism industry here in west Cork have noted that takings have been significantly down for August,” he said.

“By opening the schools in August we are essentially taking a week out of the tourism season, which traditionally covered June, July and August.

“I believe we need to have another look at the necessity of bringing the school year back a week.

“Holiday homes are usually booked on a weekly basis, so by encroaching the school year even a few days into August, this is affecting holiday home providers and other local businesses for the entire week.”

Some tourism officials said that earnings are down by up to 10pc as families opt not to holiday for the final two weeks in August due to children returning to school.

Warning

Other education campaigners warned that studies are required on the specific extent of the impact before any decision to revise opening dates is taken.

Mr Lombard appealed for “a common-sense approach” to the issue with the needs of rural communities taken into proper consideration.

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The decision for schools to open a week earlier than the traditional September date was taken to ease pressure on class schedules at other times of the academic year.

However, a study last year found that Irish secondary schools still have one of the longest holiday periods in Europe.

Only Greece, France and Cyprus have shorter school years than Ireland, although the lengthy post-Christmas break in France is traditionally aimed at facilitating winter sports.

Irish Independent

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