- Trips by British visitors -10.7pc to 855,800
- Trips from Europe +2.2pc to 741,800
- North America to Ireland +25.7pc to 357,900
- Other areas +16.7pc to 109,700
Brexit uncertainty and the fall in the value of sterling has hit Irish tourism, with the number of visitors from Britain down 10.7pc from February to April 2017. The total number of trips to Ireland increased by just 0.1pc to 2,065,100 – an overall increase of 2,600 compared to the same period twelve months earlier.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “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. This is impacting on travel to Ireland. Therefore, competitiveness and the value for money message are more important than ever in Britain right now.”
Tourism Ireland is also looking to attract a different audience from Britain, saying it is “placing a greater focus on our ‘culturally curious’ audience, who are less impacted by currency fluctuations. We are also undertaking an expanded partnership programme with airlines, ferry operators and tour operators, communicating a strong price-led message to drive home value for money. We will continue to monitor developments around Brexit closely, to better understand and plan for its implications.”
But Mr Gibbons highlighted the increases from other important markets: “I am pleased to see the continued strong performance from North America, with today’s CSO figures confirming an increase of almost +26pc for February to April. A number of factors are working in our favour, including more airline seats than ever, from more gateways across the US and Canada. Visitor numbers from Australia and Developing Markets for February to April are also really strong, up almost +17pc. And arrivals from Mainland Europe grew by over 2pc – with important markets like France (+8.6pc), Germany (+3.8pc) and Spain (+10.4pc) continuing to perform well.
“Building on the success of recent years and sustaining growth into the future is our focus now. The challenge of Brexit is very real and the drop in British visitor numbers (-10.7%) for the February to April period reflects that. We continue to work with our industry partners, to diversify our tourism markets. Some years back, Tourism Ireland identified North America and Mainland Europe as the markets which offer the strongest return on investment, in terms of holiday visitors and expenditure.