Tourism Ireland to rewrite 2019 plans in the event of no-deal Brexit

Agency policymakers may pivot Ireland away from UK visitors and look to US instead

Niall Gibbons of  Tourism Ireland and Brendan Griffin, Minister of State at the Department of Tourism: 2018 has been a record year, with €6.1 billion in revenues generated from 11.2 million overseas visitors to Ireland, up 10 per cent. Photograph: Shane O’Neill

Niall Gibbons of Tourism Ireland and Brendan Griffin, Minister of State at the Department of Tourism: 2018 has been a record year, with €6.1 billion in revenues generated from 11.2 million overseas visitors to Ireland, up 10 per cent. Photograph: Shane O’Neill

 

The chief executive of Tourism Ireland says the State body will have to rewrite its plans for 2019 if Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal.

The agency is responsible for promoting Ireland, including the North, to tourists abroad. Speaking at the launch of its full-year review on Tuesday morning, chief executive Niall Gibbons said its projections for 2019, including 6 per cent growth to €6.5 billion of revenues from overseas visitors, could yet be revised.

“Our plans are predicated on a Brexit deal being done. If that changes, our plan would have to change,” said Mr Gibbons.

He indicated that, in the event of a no-deal, tourism policymakers will seek to pivot Ireland away from reliance on the British market, which accounts for more than a third of visitors to the Republic alone, towards the US and other source markets where tourists have “higher spend and longer stays” than UK visitors.

Mr Gibbons said he flew to Britain “the week after” the 2016 Brexit vote to begin planning the agency’s response. Tourism Ireland, he said, has conducted extensive research on the prevailing mood among British tourists, and will conduct another survey next month as Brexit preparations ramp up.

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“Quite frankly, we haven’t posed a question yet [to British consumers it has surveyed] about what their intentions would be in the event of no-deal,” he said.

“British holidaymakers take 70 million foreign trips annually. They will probably continue to do that in any event. The effect on the currency [sterling] and the economic impact will be the biggest issue.”

Brendan Griffin, the Minister of State with responsibility for tourism, who was also present at the briefing, highlighted that Ireland will next year be advertised as a tourism destination on “mainstream telly in Britain” for the first time in several years.

When asked if there was a specific Government plan for tourism in the event of a no-deal Brexit, he said there was a “whole-of-Government plan”.

“We’re doing our best to ensure [the tourism industry is prepared],” he said.

Mr Gibbons reiterated at the briefing that 2018 was a record year for Irish tourism, with €6.1 billion in revenues generated from 11.2 million overseas visitors to Ireland, growth of 10 per cent.

The State has given Tourism Ireland an extra €10 million in funding for 2019, bringing its budget to promote Ireland up to €45 million.