Summer 2020 is Donegal’s time to shine – that’s according to Donegal chef Kieran Duey Doherty.
Kieran, who runs Nancy’s Barn in Ballyliffin, is enjoying a booming business this season thanks to an influx of visitors and local ‘staycationers’.
“We’ve had people we’ve never had in Donegal before. They would have headed down south or abroad other years. We have gained thousands of new customers and the feedback has been phenomenal,” Kieran told Donegal Daily.
After a tumultuous time, Kieran said the positive feeling is being shared among all hospitality businesses in Ballyliffin, Clonmany and beyond.
“It’s not just today we’ll be benefitting, it’s the next 10 years that is going to pay off dividends when visitors return after having a good experience,” he said.
Tourism businesses in Ireland have been calling for a reduction in the tourism VAT this year to put Ireland on a competitive footing with the UK and other countries. There was disappointment when this support did not materialise in the July Stimulus Package. However, Kieran said the sector has to remain positive.
“The VAT is a dampener – it’s a disappointment but you have to remain positive, everybody is getting their fair share. I know it’s disappointing for the pubs, but everywhere is booming, there is a different atmosphere. The doom and gloom is gone and we are learning to adapt,” he said.
A full staff team is back in action at Nancy’s Barn and they are enjoying high booking numbers. Most foodies travel to the restaurant for Kieran’s world award-winning seafood chowder, but the local area as a whole, Kieran said, is reaping the benefits of domestic tourism.
“You’re so proud to see it. And it’s about helping one another. We all work closely together in Inishowen,” he said.
“We are a daytime business and we are proud to send people to nighttime eateries nearby. We have also started a pop-up restaurant at the weekend called ‘Nancy’s by Night’ and we are booked out weeks in advance.
“Every hotel, Airbnb and B&B is booked up too. We are not getting the European and American visitors this year, but there is a massive increase in people coming from the south of Ireland and Dublin.
“I think this is the time we need to shine through Covid, this is free marketing, we need to really excel and let every visitor leaves with a great experience,” he said.
Kieran is also optimistic looking ahead to the off-season. “I think we’re going to have a very different winter – the first in many decades. Already we have people who visited in July whose families are booked again to come in October and November. We know we are safe until Christmas.”
As hotels and restaurants operate in changed times, Kieran adds that the onus is on everyone to be an ambassador for Donegal.
“I think we should be so proud and confident in what we do. It’s not all bad. We need to pat ourselves on the back.”Tags: