'Increased costs' and 'Brexit uncertainty' to blame for a decrease in tourism
A tourism representative body have said "increased costs" and "Brexit uncertainty" are to blame for a decrease in tourism numbers.
The comments come after an earlier analysis by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) identified that spending was down 4pc for the first quarter with two of the past three months showing a reversal in visitor arrivals.
The tourism body said without support, the tourism economy could decline in Ireland this year - which will be the first reverse in eight years.
Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC), Eoghan O’Mara Walsh said that the decrease in visitors could be due to more challenging trading conditions for tourism and hospitality businesses this year, citing "Brexit uncertainty" and "increased costs" as an added pressure on the industry.
He said; "Latest official tourism numbers highlight the impact of increased costs and Brexit uncertainty on tourism businesses throughout the country."
The group have criticised the Government for a drift on tourism policy and increased taxation, inadequate overseas marketing budgets, and new regulations related to self-catering tourism accommodation.
Mr O’Mara Walsh said; "In the year that Brexit comes to pass, which Fáilte Ireland estimate could cost Irish tourism €390 million, the timing of the Vat hike is disastrous. Coupled with a hard Brexit this could mean nearly a €1 billion hit to the sector."
ITIC has now alled on the Government to prove its commitment to tourism and not lose the opportunity for regional growth.
"Investment by the Government in tourism is only now at 2008 levels – that is a long decade of underinvestment.
"If the Government is serious about tourism it must support the sector in improved competitiveness and increased investment. Too many jobs are at stake and this is regional Ireland’s biggest employer by some distance," he added.