Brexit uncertainty poses challenge for tourism chiefs
The number of British visitors to Ireland fell sharply in August, according to the latest statistics.
Data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed trips from Britain dropped 2.7pc in August from a year earlier to 393,000, but visitors from other European countries rose slightly by 0.2pc to 427,900.
There are concerns that Brexit will hit the tourism industry hard, especially in rural Ireland.
August is traditionally the peak month for visitors, but the numbers visiting from Britain marked the lowest total for the month since 2016.
While the UK economy is faltering under the weight of Brexit uncertainty, surging wage packets appear to have bolstered demand for trips overseas by Irish residents.
The economy here grew by 8.2pc last year and, since 2013, incomes have grown at their fastest pace since the Celtic Tiger era and much more strongly than in most of the rest of the rich nations in the European Union.
The CSO data showed that the total number of overseas trips made by Irish residents during the month of August surged 11.9pc to 973,600.
In the eight months to the end of August 2019, the total number of trips to Ireland increased by 2.2pc, when compared with the same period in 2018, while Irish residents' trips overseas during the period increased 8pc.
"The figures underline a continuing weak trend and reflect feedback from industry partners on the ground who have been experiencing weaker demand and have expressed concern for the remainder of 2019 and beyond," said Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland.
"The uncertainty around Brexit is an ongoing challenge, giving rise to consumer concern in Britain and some mainland European markets.
"The fall in the value of sterling has made holidays here more expensive for British visitors - and has made Britain more affordable for visitors from many of our top source markets," Mr Gibbons added.
Tourism Ireland has now launched a €12m autumn advertising campaign to win business from overseas markets.
"Many people are opting for shorter holiday breaks and autumn is a really good opportunity, with many world-class festivals and events happening across the country," he said.