Irish tourism continues to grow riding on Brexit uncertainty

Published on : Thursday, December 28, 2017

Irish tourismIreland continues to witness a steady growth in its tourism revenues. The Irish tourism industry is now worth an estimated €8.7 billion as the number of international visitors continues to rise. According to new figures from the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, the country earned an estimated €6.5 billion from overseas tourism in 2017.

This included €4.9 billion spent by overseas visitors when in Ireland and €1.6 billion spent with Irish airline and ferry companies. A total of €1.9 billion was generated in domestic tourism revenue and a further €300m earned from Northern Ireland visitors.

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, the umbrella group representing Irish tourism interests, said that expenditure by international visitors to Ireland was up 6 per cent on the previous year. It noted that the average spend per US visitor while in Ireland was €730.

Meanwhile, the tourism industry added another 25,000 new jobs in 2017 with the sector now employing 230,000 people nationwide.

Recent CSO figures showed that the number of overseas visitors here grew by 3 per cent to 8.9 million – the highest number on record – with North America, mainland Europe and long-haul markets all showing record growth levels.

But the UK market, Ireland’s biggest source market, did show a sharp decline of 7 per cent due to the impact of a weaker sterling after the Brexit vote.

The chair of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation has called for more investment by State agencies in promoting Ireland as a destination for visitors from Britain.

Maurice Pratt said there was no room for complacency despite the growth in numbers visiting from the US and Europe.

But despite Brexit and capacity worries, Irish tourism businesses are positive about 2018 and the ITIC believes the industry can grow by a further 5 per cent in overseas visitor numbers and 7 per cent in export revenue.

The ITIC said the industry has invested significantly in new hotels, routes, and attractions and has committed substantial sums to marketing and promotion with a key focus on the need to continue delivering good value for money.

The Government decision to maintain the 9 per cent VAT rate on tourism services continues to support the country’s competitiveness on the back of operating efficiencies and better value offerings from tourism businesses, it added.

ITIC believes that, based on anticipated tourism flows, at least a further 10,000 jobs can be created in the tourism industry in the year ahead.

Meanwhile, B&B Ireland, the industry body representing the B&B sector in Ireland, said its share of overseas visitors rose 18% to 361,084 in 2017.

“The B&B sector has performed extremely well in 2017, which is testament to the quality and competitiveness of our tourism product and industry,” commented B&B Ireland’s chief executive Helena Healy.

“As sterling and consumer confidence in the UK weakens due to the uncertainty over Brexit, it is more vital than ever that Ireland remains competitive,” she added.

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