While these figures indicate a 3.1% increase on overall visitor numbers when compared with the same five-month period in 2016, UK visitors have fallen back by 6.8%.
DIGI Secretary and LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keefe welcomed the figures that show overall visitor numbers to Ireland have increased in the period January-May of 2017, compared to the same period last year.
However he added that the figures showing visitor numbers from the UK, our largest tourism market, are down is a concern given the potential impact of Brexit.
“According to the CSO, 40% of our tourists come from Britain,” he stated recently, pointing out that the figures report a significant reduction in the number of British visitors to Ireland in the period January-May of 2017 – down 105,100 or 6.8% on 2016 figures.
“The hospitality sector and particularly the Irish pub play a central role in attracting tourists to Ireland,” he continued, “Pub culture consistently ranks as one of the top reasons why people visit Ireland. Tourism is worth over €6.5 billion to the Irish market and is key to the continued growth and development of our economy.
“When faced with challenges like Brexit we need to ensure we take action to protect, encourage and develop our tourism product and particularly those industries that drive it. We believe that the government needs to produce a Brexit Budget and pull together a coordinated Brexit strategy that protects jobs, encourages economic activity and mitigates the risk of a hard Brexit.
“We believe that government must look to reduce the excise tax on alcohol that are among the highest in the EU.”
Tourism Ireland Chief Executive Niall Gibbons commented on the latest CSO figures too stating that the drop in British visitor numbers (down 6.8%) for the January to May period reflects the very real challenge for Irish tourism.
“The decline in the value of Sterling has made holidays and short breaks here more expensive for British visitors and economic uncertainty is undoubtedly making British travellers more cautious about their discretionary spending,” he stated recently, “This is impacting on travel to Ireland. Therefore, competitiveness and the value-for-money message are more important than ever in Britain right now.”