Tourism industry braced for coronavirus impact as Q4 numbers show Brexit softness

Latest CSO show overseas trips by non-residents increased marginally in final quarter

 Passengers wearing face masks arrive at Dublin Airport

Passengers wearing face masks arrive at Dublin Airport

 

The number of overseas trips to Ireland by non-residents increased marginally in the final quarter of last year but the duraction of stay and earnings from overseas visitors fell.

The latest tourism figures, however, predate the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has decimated travel in Europe and elsewhere.

With airlines cancelling flights and countries imposing restrictions on movement, the industry here is bracing itself for a major contraction.

Hoteliers and industry representatives are warning that tens of thousands of jobs in the sector are at risk as people from overseas cancel holidays here.

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show the number of overseas trips to Ireland by non-residents increased from 2.413 million trips in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 2.425 million trips in the same period last year, which equates to an increase of 0.5 per cent.

The number of nights spent in Ireland by overseas travellers, meanwhile, fell by 0.4 per cent in the three months from October to December compared with the same period the previous year, falling from 15.134 million to 15.079 million.

The average duration of overseas trips to Ireland also decreased from 6.3 nights to 6.2 nights in the final quarter of 2019.

Total tourism and travel earnings from overseas travellers to Ireland decreased by 1.6 per cent in the fourth quarter compared to the previous year, falling from decreasing from €1.4 billion to €1.378 billion.

The CSO said when fares are excluded, total expenditure decreased from €1.05 billion to €1 billion, a decrease of 4.4 per cent over the period.

The softer numbers have been linked to several issues including Brexit and the lifting of the reduced rate of VAT for the hospitality sector.

The figures show the number of overseas trips made by Irish residents increased by 2.8 per cent, from 1.858 million trips in the final quarter of 2018 to 1.910 million in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The average duration of overseas trips made by Irish residents also rose from six nights to 6.5 nights, the CSO said.