Tourism cannot wait to run down the clock waiting for Brexit and must “fight tooth and nail” for every British visitor, an industry body has said, as the Government launched a new all-Ireland strategy for the market.
The plan which has been developed by government agencies Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, and Tourism NI, seeks to grow tourism revenue from British holidaymakers by more than 25%, to €705m by 2022.
It involves a public relations and marketing plan targeting British tourists, encouraging them to travel beyond the hotspots of Dublin and Belfast, and for short breaks across Ireland to be more accessible.
While welcoming the plan, business group the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, said it must be backed by real investment from Government,
Chief executive Eoghan O’Mara Walsh said: “It is very welcome to have a focus on strategy and a roadmap, but that needs solid action.
What is fine on paper has to be backed with pro-tourism enabling policies from the Government.
He said the Vat increase on the hospitality industry from 9% to 13.5%, rising insurance costs, and commercial water rates were hurting, especially in the regions which depended more on tourism from visitors from across the Irish Sea.
The fall in sterling since the Brexit vote in 2016 has led to a notable decline in British tourists.
Visits from Britain did increase 1.4% in the first quarter but the growth lagged visits from mainland Europe — which rose 6% — and North America, according to CSO figures.
Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin said the industry had got an extra €35m this year, and its new British visitor initiate had a “strong focus on regional growth and season extension”.