In welcoming the overall figures, DIGI Secretary Donall O’Keeffe also warned that, “The figures showing visitor numbers from the UK, our largest tourism market, are concerning when we consider the impact Brexit is having on the country”.
According to the CSO, 40% of our tourists come from Britain and the Great Britain figures report a significant reduction in the number of British visitors to Ireland in the three-month period – down 102,300 or 10.7% on the same period in 2016.
“The hospitality sector – and particularly the Irish pub – play a central role in attracting tourists to Ireland,” continued Donall O’Keeffe, “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 government must look to reduce the excise rates on alcohol that are among the highest in the EU. This would assist the drinks and hospitality industry to continue to innovate its offering and remain an attractive destination for our largest tourism market.”