That is according to the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, which said yesterday that Brexit is the biggest challenge since the onset of the financial crash eight years ago for an industry that employs tens of thousands of people
Any outcome that leads to a hard Brexit when Britain completes its divorce talks with the EU in the coming years will have adverse effects on tourism across Ireland, North and South, ITIC said.
In a major research note, ITIC identified border concerns, aviation, and regulatory regimes and cross-border co-operation as the key issues facing Irish tourism post-Brexit.
ITIC chairman Paul Gallager said that under no circumstances should Brexit lead to an end to the promotion and co-operation arrangements under which the Government sells the island of Ireland as a tourism destination abroad.
The current arrangements are “working well” but if London erects border controls then “these should be on the British mainland and not on the island of Ireland”, said ITIC.
The threat of a hard Brexit has loomed large since Prime Minister Theresa May told the Conservatives’ party conference last month that the UK would negotiate to secure control of migration when it triggers Article 50 in March.
That stance has raised the stakes for Irish industries such as tourism, which would be badly hit by the erection of new barriers.
The slump in sterling — which has dropped to 89p against the euro from 76p on the eve of the June 23 referendum and from 70p late last year — could reduce British tourist numbers next year, said Mr Gallagher.
A cheaper sterling could also affect the number of North American visitors to Ireland who may opt to stay longer in Britain to cash in on the currency savings.
Separately, he welcomed the announcement by the DAA of a tender to build a 400-bedroom hotel at Terminal 2, but said the Dublin region still faced a shortage of 5,000 rooms.