Rural tourism to be hardest hit as Brexit dents sterling
Rural tourism will be hardest hit this year by a fall in the value of sterling, the chief executive of the Irish Hotels Federation, Tim Fenn, has warned.
The decline in the value of sterling versus the euro since last June's Brexit vote made it more expensive for UK visitors to holiday in Ireland and was a "significant concern" for Ireland's hoteliers, Mr Fenn said.
He pointed out that the UK accounted for 40pc of Ireland's 8.8 million overseas visitors last year.
"Deterioration in our GB visitors will hit our rural tourism hardest as this is the one market that does travel outside our city and tourist hotspots," according to Mr Fenn.
"We must continue to make significant strides in developing our tourism product and stay focused on providing great value whilst giving holidaymakers new and compelling reasons to come here."
He said that in 2016, bookings made by British visitors before the Brexit vote helped to shore up the numbers coming from the UK to Ireland.
But the impact of that June vote is likely to be more pronounced this year.
Mr Fenn was speaking as the Irish Hotels Federation holds its annual conference in Kilkenny today and tomorrow.
He added that despite the Brexit vote last year, 13,000 jobs were created in Ireland's tourism and hospitality sector in 2016.
He said that brought the total created since 2011 to 50,000.
The tourism industry here now supports about 220,000 jobs - equivalent to 11pc of the total employment in Ireland.