• Cyril McAree

Latest Tourism Industry Barometer Reflects Buoyant Year Yet Dip In Sentiment Hints At Brexit Concern


Tourism performance throughout 2018 continues to be on a strong footing, according to the latest Fáilte Ireland Tourism Barometer published today. The survey of more than 500 tourism businesses around the country shows over half of the tourism industry is reporting their business to be up, with two thirds (64%) saying that tourism agency supports have been a contributing factor to their success.

However, today’s report also showed that industry sentiment is down slightly on recent years - despite high visitor numbers and strong performance - which is an indication that perceptions regarding growth in the sector are dipping.

This drop in sentiment is likely due to the fact that a third of the sector say that business from Northern Ireland and Britain is down this year, and there is an unease over the impact Brexit will have on business. While Northern counties have seen growth overall, they have felt a larger decline in business from Great Britain than other locations and, as a result, have a less positive outlook going forward with just 11% expecting business to be up.

Speaking about the results of today’s Tourism Industry Barometer, Fáilte Ireland's Chief Executive Paul Kelly emphasised:

“By and large, the picture so far this year being reported by businesses reflects the buoyant visitor numbers that we have seen in the CSO’s data, and what has been a record year for tourism. That said, if we take a closer look at how businesses are performing, it’s clear there are concerns brewing around the drop in business from Britain and Northern Ireland as well as the potential impact Brexit may have. While hotels are thriving, B&Bs are experiencing a more challenging year as they deal with a decline in visitors from the UK. Similarly, Northern counties have been much more significantly impacted by the decline in the Northern Irish visitor market, and are certainly more exposed to any future challenges created by Brexit.

“While overall sentiment is healthy, it has dipped slightly compared to previous years, reminding us that despite current visitor numbers, and strong factors for the year ahead including growth in air and sea access, we can’t take future success for granted. That’s why, at Fáilte Ireland, we have a range of measures in place to help the industry adequately prepare for Brexit through programmes including 'Get Brexit Ready', as well as those focused on diversifying into other markets such as China and the Middle East, which are showing great growth potential in the coming years. We are also working closely with Government to roll out a further programme of supports to help the industry be on the front foot in dealing with the implications of losing visitors from our nearest overseas market. With joint measures like these, we can help to ensure that the industry continues to experience high levels of growth in the future.”

The full comprehensive Tourism Barometer can be accessed here

Factors underpinning current sentiment include:

The paid service accommodation sector - including hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs - continues to perform well this year, with 51% of businesses receiving more visitors than in the same period last year.

Hotel performance in particular remains strong, with about half (54%) saying that visitor levels are up. Americans continue to be a very important market for the Irish hotel industry. About three in five (62%) hotel operators say the market is up on 2017. The German market is also performing well, with close to half (45%) of hotels saying it is up on last year. A key theme in the Barometer among the more weather-dependent sectors such as caravan and camping, golf and attractions is that the fine summer weather boosted the domestic market.

B&Bs are experiencing a more challenging year. 23% have had more visitors to date this year, but 34% recorded a decrease. The sector is reporting declines in the British and Northern Irish markets, and the impact of low-priced competition. Northern Counties continue to be set apart from the rest of the Republic of Ireland in terms of the proportion (47%) saying they are affected by the Sterling to Euro exchange rate, and Brexit (this compares to 21% in the rest of the country).

The Northern Ireland market is still down (-22pts) for Northern counties, which compares to -8pts for the rest of the country. Two thirds (64%) of businesses also say that tourism agency supports have been a contributing factor to their success. This includes Fáilte Ireland’s regional experience brands such as the Wild Atlantic Way, business supports, training and marketing. Sentiment in the industry is less positive than in recent post-crisis years; however, it is still healthy and higher than anything recorded pre-2013.

The full comprehensive Tourism Barometer can be accessed HERE


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