No-deal Brexit could cost Irish tourism industry €390m

A no-deal Brexit crisis could cost the Irish tourism industry as much as €390m, a prediction that is €130m worse than previously feared and could see thousands of people lose their jobs.

Fáilte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly issued the dire warning on Wednesday morning amid ongoing speculation Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's backstop review climbdown could potentially see a deal inch within reach.

Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland Paul Kelly
Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland Paul Kelly

Asked at the Oireachtas cross-party transport and tourism committee how damaging a worst case scenario no deal Brexit could be, Mr Kelly said such a situation will pose the Irish tourism industry severe problems.

Responding to a question from Fianna Fáil transport spokesperson Robert Troy, the Fáilte Ireland chief executive said:

"There are implications of a no deal Brexit on Irish tourism sector. The Tourism Industry Council have published one scenario specifically looking at UK visitors, and they've made the estimate of €260m as a revenue impact of the industry.

We've looked at alternative scenarios. They're only scenarios, and one would have placed the impact as €390m based on modelling of ash cloud and foot and mouth, and the impact of that time.

"They are only scenarios and of course it will depend on what happens, and of course it will depend on aviation and open sky [in relation to Brexit].

"But there's no doubt again it would be a very significant impact."

Mr Kelly repeated his comments to Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster at a later committee exchange, saying "in the context of a no deal Brexit we would need significant extra funding" for the tourism sector, saying:

"In the region of €20m in incremental extra funding every year would be needed to protect the industry."

He added that the pre-budget 9% VAT rate on hotels "would have helped to continue to fuel the growth of the sector" had it been retained, and that job losses are likely as a direct result of a no deal Brexit.

Asked the same questions about Brexit "pressure points", Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said simply that "if the British tourists decide to travel in less numbers, that's going to have an impact in Ireland."

"The key issue around Brexit is the international market place, but for planning around 2019 for now we are working around a deal being done," he said.

No-deal Brexit could cost Irish tourism industry €390m

Mr Gibbons was later asked by Fianna Fáil TD Kevin O'Keeffe which areas will be worst affected by a no deal Brexit.

Noting the potential impact, he said the border regions, Dublin, the west of Ireland and the south west will be hit most significantly.

If there was a hard Brexit, no flight could land or take off from UK next year, which is quite a problem of course.

"What areas are most impacted? The British visitors while significant in volume their spend is down around 20%, but they do impact on the rural economy more than anywhere.

"The border regions, Dublin, the west and the south west will be worst hit, and it will be out of season, that will be quarter one and quarter four, and that will be most at risk of a hard Brexit," Mr Gibbons said.

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