Fewer tourists from Britain travelled to the Republic in the second quarter as sterling weakness dented their spending power.
Figures released on Wednesday by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that 985,000 trips were made to the Republic from Britain between April and June, a fall of 3,000 on the same quarter in 2018. This came as the overall number of trips to the Republic by overseas tourists was up 2.4 per cent.
Despite that rise, the number of trips taken by French and Italian travellers was also down in the period. This was balanced by an increase in numbers coming from the US and Canada and “other Europe”.
“The figures underline a continuing weak trend and reflect feedback from industry partners on the ground who have been experiencing weaker demand and have expressed concern for the remainder of 2019 and beyond,” said Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons.
“The uncertainty around Brexit is an ongoing challenge, giving rise to consumer concern in Britain and some mainland European markets. The fall in the value of sterling has made holidays here more expensive for British visitors – and has made Britain more affordable for visitors from many of our top source markets,” he said, noting also that air access capacity is expected to weaken into the winter months.
In the three months to the end of June, there were 2.95 million trips to the State by non-residents. And while that 2.4 per cent rise is relatively minor in the context of growth over the past number of years, those travellers spent more time here. The number of nights spent by overseas travellers increased by 5.8 per cent to 19.8 million.
But traders in the tourism industry will likely be concerned by the fact that total revenue rose just 2.1 per cent to €2 billion as they wait to see the outcome of the UK’s departure from the EU. Last week, a confidential report circulated to Irish Ministers warned that 10,000 hospitality jobs could be lost within the first three months of a no-deal Brexit.
Some 32 per cent of tourists who stayed at least one night in the second quarter came from Britain, compared to 22 per cent from the US and Canada.
Irish residents, meanwhile, appeared to have greater confidence than their European peers, with the number of trips abroad rising by almost 7 per cent to 2.4 million. Expenditure by Irish residents overseas increased by 17.5 per cent to €1.68 billion in the second quarter.
And while the average duration of trips to the Republic was 6.5 nights in the second quarter, Irish tourists spent an average of 6.8 nights abroad.