Irish tourism spending falls for first time in eight years

The tourism sector had an estimated value of €9.3 billion to the Irish economy in 2019, indicating a decline on the 2018 figure.

After a bright start in 2019, the Irish tourism industry experienced a difficult end to the year, with Brexit and consumer apprehension playing a key factor, according to a new assessment by the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC).

The assessment stated that the tourism sector had an estimated value of €9.3 billion to the Irish economy in 2019, which indicates a one per cent decline on 2018, marking the first decline in the value of tourist spending in eight years.

Surprisingly, the fall came despite the number of overseas visitors to the Republic of Ireland being on track to reach a record high.

“Brexit is a major ongoing concern for Irish tourism”

The decline has led to some concerns, with the ITIC calling for “proactive Government intervention” to sustain its activity in 2020. the umbrella group, representing key tourism stakeholders, stated that Brexit, the VAT hike, and increased costs of business have all put significant pressure on the industry that employs roughly 265,000 people.

Ireland earned an estimated €6.95 billion from overseas tourism this year which was made up of €5.2 billion spent by overseas visitors when in Ireland and €1.75 billion spent with Irish airline and ferry companies. An additional €1.9 billion is likely to have been generated in domestic tourism revenue with a further €380 million earned from Northern Ireland visitors.

“Government must also do far more to help businesses”

“It has been a very mixed year for Irish tourism with strong growth in the early part of the year slowing sharply as 2019 progressed,” said Ruth Andrews, chairwoman of ITIC.

“Brexit is a major ongoing concern for Irish tourism and if no trading agreement is reached between the UK and EU we could well be facing another cliff-edge, no-deal outcome this time next year,” she added.

Commenting on the figures, ITIC chief executive Eoghan O’Mara Walsh said the no-deal Brexit contingency fund of €40 million announced in the October budget should be released now “to stimulate demand in the crucial early months” of the year.

“Government must also do far more to help businesses manage costs, including insurance.”

While attracting visitors from Britain and continental Europe is expected to remain challenging, the ITIC is optimistic that the key North American market will continue to grow in 2020 as a result of better air connectivity.

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 2 January, 2020