The number of visits paid to Ireland’s key attractions has fallen by 10% so far this year, despite coming off a bumper year for tourism in 2018.
The national conference of the Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions in Limerick heard that the industry is facing a perfect storm of challenges in the year ahead, ranging from Brexit, competitiveness and unstable geo-social and political environments.
“Our recently published Annual Members Survey showed that 2018 was a record year for Irish tourism,” AVEA chairman and managing director of Diageo Irish Brand Homes Paul Carty told delegates.
“Our members, who employ nearly 4,000 people nationwide, welcomed 22.6 million visitors and generated €489 million in revenue. However, the survey also highlights significant challenges facing our sector in 2019.”
Incoming AVEA Chairman Niall O’Callaghan, managing director of Shannon Heritage, said 2019 had not lived up to visitor expectations so far.
“While the VEA sector remains positive, performance will be down by up to 10% on 2018,” he said.
Clouds are gathering on the horizon for Irish tourism; Brexit, market competitiveness and more unstable geo-social and political environments in many of our key international markets.
"Now is the time for a close working relationship with government to realise how a championed VEA sector can play an even greater role in neutralising some of these obvious challenges.”
Mr O'Callaghan also cited the increasing costs of doing business as a real concern, impacting the competitiveness of the entire tourism industry.
“The continued increases in insurance premiums are well-documented and will damage the sectors’ ability to evolve and grow," he said. The conference ends tomorrow.