A report of the Tourism Ireland Brexit Meeting, by H Knott

On 4th May Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland hosted a round-table meeting at the Spencer Hotel, Dublin at which BREXIT was the main topic for discussion. The attendance was made up mainly of representatives of the main Irish Tourism related activity Representative Organisations and I took part representing the ISCF in the discussions. The main Carriers operating to and from Ireland were also present while the Departments of the Taoiseach and Transport, tourism and Sport also took part.

It was clear from the start that the fall in the value of sterling has had a dramatic effect on current visitor numbers and behaviour and that the likely outcomes of BREXIT will challenge all sectors of the Irish Tourism Industry. Thus, in the first quarter of 2017, while overall tourist numbers coming to Ireland were broadly similar to last year the numbers from GB were down by 6% and the big increase was in those from North America, 293,000, up by 23%.

The fall in sterling is not only stopping UK residents holidaying in Eurozone countries, but is encouraging more tourists from the Eurozone to go the UK. Tourism interests in Scotland and Wales have sought to capitalise on this.

The competitiveness of the Irish tourism products have come under strong scrutiny once again with Ireland slipping to being 121st of 150 countries in terms of completeness on figures issued by the World Economic Forum. Tourism Ireland is seeking further marketing budget in the forthcoming Government estimates and with Failte Ireland is also seeking to drive more Staycation business in Ireland. Failte Ireland is working with the OPW, Coillte and other State Agencies to develop further visitor experiences aimed, particularly, at the culturally curious.

A high priority in the BREXIT discussions is the maintenance of the Common visa scheme for visitors to UK and Ireland which is significantly benefitting Irish tourism. Work is on-going to develop direct air access with locations in Asia.

I found the meeting to be very down-to-earth and the self-catering sector is clearly being recognised as being a significant member of the Irish Tourism Team.

Attended by Howard Knott on behalf of the ISCF Executive Council, 4th May 2017

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