Rise in visitor numbers and revenues from outside Britain welcomed

Concerted push to draw in tourists from outside our lead market is paying off

The challenges posed by Brexit to the tourism industry have long been noted. Our over-reliance on overseas visitors from Britain, together with the decline of sterling since the vote to leave the European Union was carried, poses real dangers to the sector.

A look at visitor numbers published this week offers mixed blessing. While it shows a rebound in visitors numbers from Britain during the first nine months of the year (up 1 per cent versus the same period in 2017), it also shows a 1 per cent decline in spending.

"The continued uncertainty around Brexit, and its impact on outbound travel from Britain remains a real concern," is how Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, put it.

Nonetheless, while the decline in spending by British holidaymakers is disappointing, the latest figures offer plenty of positives.


Some 3.3 million people travelled from overseas to Ireland in the third quarter of the year, compared to just under 3.1 milion in the same three-month period in 2017.

According to the data, spending by visitors from North America and mainland Europe to the Republic has significantly outpaced that of tourists from Britain. These are both regions that have been targeted by tourism bodies as alternatives sources of revenue.

Overall revenues for the first nine months of the year are up 7.2 per cent compared to the corresponding period in 2017 with revenue from key markets up 12.2 per cent.

A breakdown of the data show revenues from North American visitors increased 13.2 per cent with income from European tourists, rising by 7.5 per cent.

Minister for Tourism Shane Ross said the goal is to ensure continued sustainable growth. While Brexit may yet put pay to this, it is hoped that the diversification push continues to pay dividends so that any impact from Britain's leaving of the EU is minimalised.