Tourism groups in Ireland have called for a clear strategy from the Irish government
The UK’s decision to leave the European Union could have ramifications for Ireland’s tourism industry. Tourism Ireland cited the rapid fall in the value of sterling in addition to the general economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote as the reasons for concern.
It will now be cheaper for Irish people to visit Britain, while holidaymakers from the rest of the EU will view Northern Ireland as a more appealing destination. And with a weak sterling, it is likely that people will be more cautious when it comes to discretionary spending on things such as trips abroad. Tourism Ireland has repeatedly stressed the need to maintain the common travel area between Ireland and the UK, calling it “a key priority for tourism”.
It noted that Britain is the largest market for tourism in Ireland, with 4.5 million people visiting from the UK in 2015 – a ten per cent increase from the previous year. Visitors from the UK spent €971 million in 2015 and their output has continued to rise in 2016.
According to the Central Statistics Office, UK visitors spent €33 million more between January and March 2016 than during the same period of 2015, marking an increase of 18.2 per cent.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, highlighted the advantages of the common travel area between the two countries in attracted tourists from further afield.
“In recent years, we have seen the very welcome developments of the UK/Ireland Visa Waiver Scheme and the British Irish Visa Scheme which have allowed us to market to new audiences in countries such as India and China where we have seen strong growth,” he said. “These schemes remain in place and we look forward to developing new business from long haul markets in the years ahead.”
Representative groups from the tourist sector in Ireland have called for measures to be put in place to deal with the economic effects of Brexit. The Irish Travel Agents Association explained that it was concerned that Brexit could lead to increased regulations for Irish travel agents and higher travel costs for consumers travelling to and from the UK.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland wants the Irish government to send out a clear message on the issue, while the Irish Hotels Federation said it looked forward to working with it on ensuring a quick reaction for the benefit of tourism in Ireland.
Failte Ireland’s CEO, Shaun Quinn, said Irish tourism was fortunate to have strong ties with North America and other parts of Europe. But he added that the result of the referendum was likely to impact on the industry, given Britain’s strong contribution so far this year.
“In line with the Government’s contingency plans, Fáilte Ireland will be monitoring any short term impacts of a devalued Sterling on tourist numbers to Ireland and working with businesses in the sector to develop strategies to address any arising competitiveness challenges,” he said.