Friday 24 January 2020

Brexit jitters and fewer flights see decline in November visitor figures

November saw a 7.1pc decline in visitor numbers, according to figures released today by the Central Statistics Office

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, at its 2019 end-of-year review. Picture by Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, at its 2019 end-of-year review. Picture by Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic.

Allison Bray

Brexit jitters and fewer flights from North America are the likely cause of a 7.1pc decline in the overall number of overseas visitors to Ireland last month, according to Tourism Ireland.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) today revealed that the number of trips taken to Ireland by overseas residents dropped by 7.1pc in November over the previous year at 688,600.

The largest decrease was from visitors from Canada and the United States, which saw a 9.5pc decline in trips here to 131,100 over the same time period.

The number of visitors from Great Britain also decreased by 7.4pc to 277,000, while visitors from other European countries also decreased by 6.8pc to 240,000.

While November is traditionally an off-peak season for tourists, the sharp decline between 2018 and 2019 appears to be due to issues outside of Ireland, according to Tourism Ireland, the body responsible for marketing the island of Ireland overseas.

"The figures very much reflect feedback from our industry partners on the ground, who’ve seen weaker demand this year," said its CEO Niall Gibbons (pictured).

"The continued uncertainty around Brexit is giving rise to consumer concern in Britain and some mainland European markets. There’s also been a deterioration in air access capacity this year, with a -4pc decline for this winter," he added.

The sharp decline in the number of North American visitors last month also appears to be the result of a 9pc decline in the number of airline seats available on transatlantic routes this winter, when compared with the same months last year, Tourism Ireland says.

"On US to Ireland routes, there are 131 departures per week in the core winter schedule, compared to 156 last winter following the withdrawal of Norwegian and Ethiopian Airlines," a spokesperson told Independent.ie.

Despite the winter fall-off, overseas tourism is still set to deliver €5.8 billion in revenue and 11.2m visitors in 2019 - "just short" of last year, according to Tourism Ireland.

Meanwhile, today's CSO figures showed the reverse was true for Irish residents taking outbound flights last months.

The number of Irish residents travelling abroad in November increased by 7.6pc to 612,300 trips over the same period in 2018, it revealed.

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