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Irish tourism figures blunted by Brexit fallout

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A weakened pound is keeping British visitors away from ireland, halting double digit growth spurred by a weakened euro in 2016.

The ongoing fallout from Brexit, which has weakened the value of the pound and strengthened the euro, has had a negative effect on the tourism'>irish tourism business, with visitors from Britain dropping 6.5 per cent for Q1 – the first such decline since 2010.

Visitor numbers for the first quarter of 2017 in Ireland grew by 0.6 per cent – a significant decrease on record growth of 17 per cent for the same period in 2016 and 14 per cent in 2015.

Ireland – which shares a land border with Britain and relies heavily on British trade – is expected to be the biggest loser within Europe in terms of Britain’s planned exit from the European Union.

"2016 was a record year for Irish tourism both in terms of the numbers of overseas visitors and the associated revenue generated by them,” said Shane Ross, Ireland’s minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

“Whilst the overall figures remain positive, the first quarter of 2017 has seen a drop in the number of visits from Great Britain. This provides an indication of the challenge the Irish tourism industry is facing following Britain's decision to leave the EU. It is a challenge that the government will meet, working with the tourism agencies and the industry.”

Uncertainty surrounding Brexit has seen spending curbed by British consumers, with more predicted ‘staycations’ to take place in 2017 thanks to the low value of the pound.

According to tourism group Fáilte Ireland, the fact that the Easter break took place in the second quarter may have affected the numbers. But the country’s national tourism development authority still described the drop as concerning and urged the industry to cut costs and target other international markets.

“In a post-Brexit environment, the tourism sector needs to maintain its competitive edge particularly in terms of a weakening sterling which not only makes Ireland more expensive for British visitors but makes Britain a more competitive destination for those other overseas visitors we are seeking to bring here,” said Fáilte Ireland CEO, Paul Kelly.

“Market diversification will also be important and tourism businesses will need to look to other international markets as well as fighting hard to continue to attract visitors from the UK. To that end, Fáilte Ireland will be working with Tourism Ireland and tourism businesses throughout the country to help them recalibrate and diversify to tap into growth in other markets.”

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A weakened pound is keeping British visitors away from Ireland, halting double digit growth spurred by a weakened euro in 2016.
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