Brexit is continuing to cast a shadow of uncertainty over Irish tourism, with a drop in the number of holidaymakers visiting the country in the month of July when compared to this time last year.
Tourism Ireland has responded with concern, noting that its feedback from industry partners suggests a pattern of weaker demand later in the year.
The total number of trips to Ireland in July decreased by 0.5% to 1,155,100, according to the CSO's latest Overseas Travel statistics.
It means that 6.2 million people have visited Ireland in the year to date - a figure that includes just over 2.1 million people from Britain. While that is a slight increase from the same period in 2018, it represents a much slower rate of growth than in previous years, sparking concern among travel operators.
There are also concerns at the numbers visiting from other areas. Trips from residents from mainland Europe are down by 0.7% and those from the USA and Canada are down by 2.7%.
The total number of overseas trips made by Irish residents during July 2019 increased by 7.0% to 968,900.
In the seven months to the end of July 2019, the total number of trips to Ireland increased by 2.8% when compared with the same period in 2018.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, described the report as "a very mixed picture". He specifically noted the "underlying weakness from Britain and mainland Europe" as the Sterling weakens and trips to Eurozone countries become more and more expensive for British holidaymakers: "Feedback from industry partners on the ground suggests weaker demand in the peak summer season and a late booking pattern, with concern being expressed for the remainder of 2019."
“Brexit certainly remains a very real and ongoing challenge, giving rise to consumer concern, particularly in Britain and some Mainland European markets. The fall in the value of sterling has made holidays here more expensive for British visitors – and has made Britain more affordable for visitors from many of our top markets. We will continue to monitor the situation closely with our industry colleagues."
Tourism Ireland also points to the withdrawal of a number of long-haul services as a problem, specifically noting the issues with Norwegian Air which, earlier this month, confirmed the cancellation of its transatlantic operations from Ireland.
"Air access capacity has deteriorated during the year, with the discontinuation of Norwegian flights from New York, Boston and Toronto, the suspension of the Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing until 2020 and the cancellation of its service from Shenzhen, as well as the delayed delivery of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft," Mr Gibbons said.