GEOFF PERCIVAL: Brexit gloom for Irish tourists

Brexit uncertainties are likely to result in higher prices for Irish holidaymakers, the main representative body for the travel industry has warned, writes Geoff Percival.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) said such reduced tourist supply will result in a push to increase prices by hotels and other accommodation providers across mainland Europe in a bid to maintain their margins.

It cited Tourism Ireland figures which estimated double-digit percentage falls in the number of British tourists travelling outside the UK and in what they spend if they do.

“It is our hope that holidaymakers from other European markets — such as Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands — will help keep prices down for Irish consumers,” said ITAA president Cormac Meehan.

Addressing delegates at the inaugural Irish travel industry summit in Dublin, Mr Meehan said those in the industry (selling to consumers) must get ready for “a very different world”.

“Brexit will result in the renegotiation of the single sky treaty and many low-cost carriers will move their bases from the UK sooner rather than later.

“The uncertainty and risk are certain to impact our sector’s growth,” he said.

Mr Meehan said a hard Brexit would hinder travel agents in the North.

“A weak pound will mean that cost of sales will rise, margins will drop, and lower customer numbers will result in higher prices. Increased border controls will also impact staff mobility,” he said adding that the Government has failed to convince the UK of the gravity of the situation.

“It is up to us, travel professionals, to embrace and strengthen bonds with our counterparts in Europe to facilitate and preserve our existing confederate relationships.

Latest UK data, published yesterday, shows consumer confidence is now lower than at any time since last year’s Brexit vote and banks approved the fewest amount of mortgages in over a year.

The UK housing market has cooled sharply this year and the UK Finance trade association said banks approved 40,488 mortgages for house purchase last month, down from 41,576 in September and 3% less than in October 2016.

The British economy has steadily slowed since the Brexit vote as rising inflation eats into disposable incomes and it growth forecasts were cut sharply earlier this week.

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