With the rate of sterling against the Euro at an all time high one would expect a massive influx of both shoppers and tourists into the county to take advantage of some of the great bargains on offer. This newspaper has spoken both to hospitality and commercial circles throughout the county and has received very mixed reactions.
Toni Forrester, CEO of the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce said, “We have noticed a slight increase in shoppers from Northern Ireland coming to shop here in Letterkenny especially before Christmas but it is very hard to gauge as many are actually changing their money before the arrive here.
“There is no doubt however, that with businesses offering between €1.20 and €1.25, there is definitely great value to be had in Donegal at the moment and we will be using it as part of our marketing strategy in future campaigns.”
A spokesperson for Rosapenna Golf Hotel felt that they were not seeing any benefits at present from the high sterling rate saying, “The Northern Ireland market is pretty quiet at the moment - people do not realise that they are going through a similar financial situation as ourselves; have experienced the cut backs and job losses and are just nervous about spending.”
In Donegal Town traders also remarked that it was hard to identify any appreciable increase in either shopping or tourism from the northern counties.
Diarmuid McGettigan from McGettigan’s Butchers said, “Because of the various awards we have won over the years we normally would enjoy a good tourism base but we haven’t witnessed any great increase to date.
“However, there is one important factor in that the combination of fuel costs and high sterling rate has succeeded in keeping domestic shoppers at home.
“No longer are we looking at the cavalcade of shoppers travelling to Enniskillen, Strabane and the likes - people are now shopping local and that must be seen as a great plus.”
A spokesperson for one of the leading banks said that the high sterling rate had no visible effect on the number of sterling transactions and said, “A year ago we would have had customers queuing at the counter or the ATM looking for Euros - this simply is just not happening.
“Likewise we are getting very few people looking for sterlings so it seems that shoppers are staying at home.”