Overseas visitor numbers declined by marginally by 1% in Q1 of 2017 compared to 2016 according to CSO figures.
Visitor numbers from Britain however are down by 7% and revenuie from this key market is down 8%.
When day visitors are included, overseas visitors were up by 1% to 1.8m.
Total earnings including fares from all visitors to Ireland grew by 1% to €939 million while earnings excluding fares came to €684 million – a decline of 1% on last year.
Total overseas nights declined by 4% to 11.1 million nights. Holiday nights were up by 2%.
·Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Despite strong growth in visitor numbers from North America (+13%) and from long-haul markets including Australia (+16%), a decline of -7% in British visitors has led to an overall drop of -1% in overseas visitors to Ireland in the first quarter of 2017. As anticipated, the challenge of Brexit for Irish tourism is very real and we’re beginning to see the impact of currency changes in today’s CSO results
– which confirm a decline of -1% in revenue from overseas visitors to Ireland in the first three months of 2017, including a decline of almost -8% in revenue from British visitors. Holidaymakers are up from North America (+16%), Mainland Europe (+6%) and from long-haul markets (+37%) but down from Britain (-15%).”
Niall Gibbons continued: “It’s more competitive than ever before in the international marketplace. The movement of sterling versus the euro and dollar, since the UK referendum on Brexit, makes Great Britain a more competitive destination for visitors from Mainland Europe and the United States. We have observed our competitors – VisitBritain, VisitScotland and VisitWales – intensifying their operations across all of Ireland’s major tourism markets to capitalise on this. Therefore, competitiveness and our value for money message are more important than ever right now.
Niall Gibbons will to-day lead a delegation of senior Irish tourism industry representatives to London for a roundtable meeting with key players in the British travel trade. We will discuss how Tourism Ireland and the tourism industry can best respond to the challenges posed by Brexit.
“As we head into the high season, Tourism Ireland has a really comprehensive promotional programme under way around the world, working in close co-operation with industry partners across the island of Ireland, as well as with a wide range of international tour operators and with major air and sea carriers. Our message is that there has never been a better time to visit the island of Ireland.”
Commenting on the results, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly today said:
“It’s important to note that, in comparing the results for the first quarter of 2017, Easter occurred in March in 2016 and that may account for some of the softening in comparable revenue figures. However, the trend from Britain is undeniable and was also reflected in Fáilte Ireland’s most recent Tourism Barometer.
“In this post-Brexit environment, the tourism sector needs to maintain its competitive edge particularly in terms of a weakening sterling which not only makes Ireland more expensive for British visitors but makes Britain a more competitive destination for those other overseas visitors we are seeking to bring here.
“Market diversification will also be important and tourism businesses will need to look to other international markets to offset any weakening in British markets. To that end, Fáilte Ireland will be working with tourism businesses throughout the country to help them recalibrate and diversify to tap growth in other markets in order to offset any Brexit-related repercussions.”