Thursday 19 September 2019

Brexit uncertainty and fall in value of sterling already having a negative impact on tourism here

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland

Allison Bray

Uncertainty over Brexit and a fall in the value of sterling is already having a negative impact on tourism here, according to Tourism Ireland.

The latest figures from the Central Statistic Office (CSO) show a worrying downward trend in the number of visitors coming here from Britain and mainland Europe, according to Tourism Ireland’s chief executive Niall Gibbons.

“Today’s figures from the CSO indicate that overseas arrivals increased by 2.8pc in the first seven months of 2019, around 170,600 more than in January-July 2018. However, the month of July has shown a continuing weak trend – with a fall of 0.5pc,” he said.

There has been a “very mixed picture” in the number of visitors coming here since the beginning of the year with some “continuing underlying weakness” in the number of people visiting from Britain, which grew by just 5pc between January and July. The number of visitors from mainland Europe grew by 2.2pc.

Although there was modest growth in the number of visitors from North America and long-haul markets at 6.4pc and 7.1pc respectively, “feedback from industry partners on the ground suggests weaker demand in the peak summer season and a late booking pattern, with concern being expressed for the remainder of 2019.

“The summer air access picture has been positive, with 2.5pc more seats available. However, air access capacity has deteriorated during the year – with the discontinuation of Norwegian flights from New York, Boston and Toronto, the suspension of the Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing until 2020 and the cancellation of its service from Shenzhen, as well as the delayed delivery of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft,” he said.

“Brexit certainly remains a very real and ongoing challenge, giving rise to consumer concern, particularly 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 markets. We will continue to monitor the situation closely with our industry colleagues.

“Our €12 million autumn campaign is under way in markets across the world, highlighting compelling reasons to visit for the rest of the year. It aims to take advantage of late booking trends around the world, as there is still plenty of business to play for.

“Many people are opting for shorter holiday breaks and autumn is a really good opportunity, with many world-class festivals and events happening right around the island. A key objective for us is to drive more business to our regions, right throughout the off-peak and shoulder season months,” he added.

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