Tourism industry warns no-deal Brexit would cost it €260m

Umbrella group due to meet Government to discuss worries over UK exit from EU

The Sheep’s Head peninsula in West Cork: Irish tourism sources more than a third of overseas visitors from Britain. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The Sheep’s Head peninsula in West Cork: Irish tourism sources more than a third of overseas visitors from Britain. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The Irish tourism industry has warned that a “no-deal” Brexit could cost the sector here up to €260 million “in the immediate aftermath” of the UK’s planned withdrawal from the European Union next year.

In an update to its members, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (Itic), the umbrella group for the sector in the Republic, estimates the cost to industry could “reach half a billion euro in lost revenue and additional costs” over several years.

Eoghan O’Mara Walshe, the chief executive of Itic, was due on Wednesday evening to meet State officials from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to discuss its figures.

In its Brexit Bulletin circular on Wednesday, Itic laid out its rationale for the estimates of the potential impacts on Irish tourism, which sources more than a third of overseas visitors from Britain.

Numbers coming from the UK have been under pressure since the 2016 vote, which precipitated a sharp fall in sterling, making the Republic a relatively more expensive destination for British holidaymakers.

Itic believes a no-deal “doomsday” scenario could potentially affect the inbound aviation sector, cutting off swathes of the State’s tourism market at source.

“Itic estimates that a hard Brexit would directly cost the Irish tourism sector approximately €260 million in its immediate aftermath as a result of a period of one week’s flight disruption, a corresponding loss to carriers, increased costs to the food and beverage sector, and a decline in British tourism numbers,” it said.

Hard Brexit

Aviation industry executives including Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, as well as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, have previously warned that a messy hard Brexit could potentially affect flights between the UK and EU countries.

Itic noted that 75 per cent of British visitors to the Republic fly across the Irish Sea, while a fifth of US visitors and 30 per cent of other long-haul visitors to the State transit through Britain on their way here.

The bulletin also said that a physical border with the North “would present a real threat to the current free flow of visitors and residents crossing between the two jurisdictions and negate Tourism Ireland’s all-island marketing strategy and investment”.

Such a “perceived barrier”, even if only for goods, would dissuade the 1.3 million northern visitors who travel south each year, Itic warns.

“Ideally the delivery of the backstop agreement on the Ireland’s land border and a smooth transition period would be the best outcome for tourism,” Itic concludes.