Hoping for a booming late summer


READY FOR ROAD Travis Zeray of Clew Bay Bike Hire is hoping the Great Western Greenway will attract tourists to the Clew Bay region.

Travis Zeray of Clew Bay Bike Hire is preparing for a different summer on the Great Western Greenway

Oisin McGovern

Travis Zeray was planning for a busy season along the Great Western Greenway.
But like everyone else in the tourism trade, that was scuppered by Covid-19 and the lockdown which followed.
But he’s confident the late summer will be busy, particularly in Westport.  
“Westport is going to be one of the busiest towns in the country if I’m being honest. We’ve so much to offer. We’ve the Greenway, we’ve the sea, we’ve Croagh Patrick, it’s stuff that’s easy to do with social distancing,” he told The Mayo News.
Clew Bay Bike Hire was one of the only bike rental companies in the country when they were set up in Westport in March 2010 and they’ve since opened depots in the three main hubs along the route of the old Westport-Achill railway line – Newport, Mulranny and Achill.
It hasn’t been the tenth anniversary they expected but they are preparing for a busy second half of the year.
The company have recently launched a partnership with Hotel Westport and Westport House. When the hotel re-opens for guests on July 20* as part of Phase 3 of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, guests will be able to hire bikes from the company and safely enjoy the great outdoors. Visitors will be able to cycle an exclusive and accessible 10-kilometre loop through the famous Westport House estate.
Travis also says that the Greenway cycling path in the town will be key to bringing visitors back to a town which depends so heavily on tourism.
“The beauty of the Greenway is that even when it’s busy people are socially distanced. You never have congestion on the Greenway. The only congestion you have is when people stop in restaurants and cafes.
“I’m extremely positive about when we re-open. When hotels and Airbnbs open again I’d say we’re going to be flooded. We’ve missed a good few months of the summer, but I’d say that’s going to push out until the autumn. People just need to get out and get away, myself included,” he said.
For businesses in west Mayo like Travis Zeray’s, a few months of the season have been completely wiped out. Until visitors return to visit the town again, Travis says that there is no point in re-opening.
However, it is hoped that the easing of restrictions will lead to an increase in ‘staycations’ as people look for an escape without jetting off abroad.
“Look at what’s happening in Italy and Spain. I have a friend living in Naples and it’s like it [the pandemic] never happened. Things went back to normal very quickly. There is going to be fear but people are going to be more confident travelling within the country than hopping on a plane. I think Westport is going to be safer [than going abroad].”
However, things will not be returning to normal for quite some time for Clew Bay Bike Hire. Like many others in tourist towns like Westport, businesses like Travis’ will have to adapt in order to entice customers with physical distancing still in place.
Renting bikes to stag dos and hen parties will be a non-runner for quite some time due to restrictions on outdoor gatherings. Bringing tourists on packed shuttle buses to Achill will also be unworkable due to restrictions on numbers using public transport. Weekend packages on Clare Island have been put on hold due to bans on non-essential travel to and from the island.
“Everyone’s nervous but now we all have to think outside the box. We’re going to need to get away, go somewhere new, feel safe, and have new adventures without flying. I think that will happen. I think it’s really important for everybody in this business to try and entice our domestic market.”

*At time of writing, the date for reopening the tourism sector remained July 20. This date has since been brought forward by the Government to June 29.