Brexit no-deal already casting a dark cloud over Ireland’s tourism sector

Caveat Footnote: Tourists from outside the UK being targeted

Tourists examine sand sculptures in Dublin Castle in 2012. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Tourists examine sand sculptures in Dublin Castle in 2012. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

As the prospect of a no-deal Brexit casts a cloud over the economy like a plume from Eyjafjallajökull, few economic sectors are as exposed as tourism.

While the impact of a hard Border would be devastating for sectors such as agriculture, the mere threat of a no-deal is enough to send sterling plunging and make Ireland a more expensive holiday location for its single biggest source market – the UK – which accounts for almost 40 per cent of arrivals. Numbers are slipping already.

Tourism authorities are, therefore, understandably keen to reduce the reliance on British visitors. Travellers from other regions have been targeted – such as the US, from where arrivals are up almost 10 per cent, and Asia, where numbers are also rising rapidly.

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Fáilte Ireland is also targeting different types of tourists, such as the business travel market, which it hopes to boost from €760 million to €1 billion over the next six years. Specifically, tourism authorities covet major international conferences.

Conference delegates are especially welcome over other tourists because they enthusiastically trash their employers’ expense accounts as they fill city hotels, restaurants, bars and taxis. There is no such thing as just work, work, work.

The latest major win for tourism authorities here is the World Library and Information Congress 2020.

Next year, 4,000 delegates will descend on Dublin for the event, which Fáilte Ireland insists will be worth €6.4 million to the economy. If the stereotypes about librarians prove untrue, and they go out for some fun and aren’t in bed by 9pm, who knows: it could be worth even more.

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