The latest Fáilte Ireland tourism barometer found that, while overall industry sentiment is healthy, it is less positive than in recent years.
A sense of caution is emerging, with almost a third of accommodation providers maintaining the status quo in 2017 and 15% expressing negative sentiment.
Half of those surveyed said British business is down, while two in five experienced a drop in visitors from the North. This was particularly evident in northern counties — Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Monaghan, and Sligo — which are most exposed to those markets.
About two-thirds of accommodation businesses in these counties said they had been affected by the sterling exchange rate compared to 44% in the rest of the country. The impact of the exchange rate has also been felt in Dublin where 58% of accommodation providers said it was a problem.
Overall, the accommodation sector is performing well, with 63% of businesses receiving more visitors than the same period in 2016.
Hotels have been the main driver of this increase, with two-thirds saying visitor levels are up. The strength of the North American market is a significant factor in this rise.
Guesthouses are also enjoying a good year, with about half (52%) experiencing increased visitor levels. The German market is performing very well for them – about three in five (58%) guesthouses have had more German visitors this year.
B&Bs are also up with 44% stating they had more visitors to date this year with a further 35% holding steady.
Fáilte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly emphasised that tourism performance remains strong but that Brexit is having an impact.
“On a national level, losses from the British market are being compensated for by strong performances in American and other markets,” he said. “However, for those regions that are heavily reliant on British and Northern Irish tourists, this offers little consolation and Brexit is already making a real impact in many counties.”
Mr Kelly also said the recent retention of the lower VAT rate will be of assistance to struggling businesses.