Fáilte Ireland targets tourism growth of 5pc next year
Fáilte Ireland is forecasting growth in tourism of as much as 5pc in 2019, despite concerns around Brexit.
Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said that 2018 had been an "exceptional" year for tourism, and that the body aimed to deliver another record year for 2019.
"For tourism to continue to grow, it will need to be planned in a sustainable way for visitors, industry, communities and the environment," Mr Kelly said.
"Our plans for the year ahead focus on how we can both meet the challenges and leverage the opportunities facing the industry to keep the current growth momentum going, by spreading visitors across the country, and growing business in the off-season months, to make sure Ireland remains a high quality destination, which provides good value for our visitors."
Mr Kelly added that Fáilte Ireland want a lower proportion of visitors in the summer and faster growth in the off-peak season.
To achieve this, the tourism body intends placing more focus on business tourism, the promotion of short breaks in the shoulder season, extending festivals, and improving Ireland's international reputation as a food island.
On the subject of Brexit, the industry body estimates that a worst case scenario would cost the sector between €380m and €390m.
Mr Kelly added that the tourism industry did a slightly more limited scenario, which estimated that a worst case scenario Brexit would have a €260m impact on the sector, but he said this was purely looking at the impact of UK visitors.
"We think one of the important impacts will be if sterling goes down there will be a loss of visitors from overseas markets to Ireland that end up going to our nearest and closes competitor, the UK. But they are just scenarios and it really depends on the shape of the final deal."
To-date this year the island of Ireland has welcomed over 9.6m overseas tourists and hosted 9.8m domestic trips this year, generating €7.8bn in revenue.
The sector now employs around 260,000 people, an increase of 20,000 since 2017.
On the subject of a third terminal at Dublin airport, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross said that meetings and consultations with stakeholders on the matter were taking place "as we speak", and he hoped that they will conclude in January, after which a decision will be taken by the Government.
"You have to take very early decisions in terms of airport infrastructure and that decision would be taken – if we have a third terminal, it is not decided at all – but if it happens we would hope to have it in place by the early 2030s."