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Tourism Ireland post-Brexit briefing and update on the British market

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BT Coleraine

Since the recent EU referendum in the United Kingdom, Tourism Ireland has been monitoring developments closely, to better understand and plan for the implications of Brexit. Tourism Ireland hosted a Brexit briefing today (Thursday, 21 July) for tourism industry leaders

At the meeting, tourism leaders heard Oxford Economics’ latest analysis, topline findings from  research conducted by Red C for Tourism Ireland in the GB market just last week, an update on the British market performance and an outline of Tourism Ireland’s promotional plans to the end of 2016. Tourism leaders exchanged their experiences to date.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Tourism Ireland has been monitoring the possible impacts of Brexit very closely at home and overseas in recent weeks. As a member of the Irish Government’s Export Trade Council, we’ve been engaged in discussions with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with our own Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, as well as with other export-driven Departments and agencies.  We will continue to participate fully and we welcome the decision to accelerate development of the new trade, tourism and investment policy.  

“Although it is still too soon to fully understand the long-term implications of Brexit for tourism to the island of Ireland, we had a very useful discussion with tourism industry leaders today. The British market will remain of significant importance for all of us in the short, medium and long-term. We have committed to continued monitoring of developments over coming months.  But, for now, it is very much business as usual.  Tourism Ireland’s €4 million promotional campaign will continue to roll out in Britain from now until the end of the year, to highlight the island of Ireland to prospective visitors and maintain the strong growth we have seen in recent years.”

Today’s meeting also heard:

  • Feedback from key travel partners in Britain, including carriers and tour operators, suggests that there has been no major change in travel patterns to Ireland.
  • This also reflects the topline findings of Tourism Ireland’s Red C research among GB holidaymakers last week which suggests there has been little impact on travel intentions in the short to medium term.  Tourism Ireland will continue to monitor this response carefully over the coming months.
  • Oxford Economics’ analysis suggests that Brexit could lead us to a decline in arrivals to Europe by 1% in 2017, when arrivals will grow by 3.2% instead of the previous forecast of 4.2%.  It also says that, in the short term, UK outbound travel could be curtailed by the weaker pound and moderately slower economic growth. UK outbound visits are now expected to decline by 2.4% in 2017 and this could impact Eurozone destinations including Ireland.
  • Tourism Ireland also emphasised that it continues to diversify its marketing activity, so that the sector is not overly reliant on any single market. While the British market accounts for about 42% of Ireland’s overseas visitors, it accounts for around 24% of its overseas tourism revenue (this is due to the fact that visitors from further afield generally tend to stay longer when on holidays here). And, Mainland Europe and North America are now our most important sources of holiday visitors and revenue.

Other issues discussed included:

  • Economic uncertainty – holiday travel demand is related to economic demand and uncertainty can cause consumers to be more cautious with their discretionary spend, including holidays.
  • Currency movements – impact on competitiveness, which means that British visitors to the Eurozone, particularly in the short-term, are likely to see holidays being more expensive. However, this will be similar for all Eurozone countries. This makes our industry’s value for money message more important than ever in our promotions in Britain.
  • The Common Travel Area (CTA) between the UK and Ireland – is a key priority for tourism. In the short-term, there are no changes to how people can travel between Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland.
  • Visa schemes – the very welcome developments of the UK/Ireland Visa Waiver Scheme and the British Irish Visa Scheme in recent years have allowed us to market to new audiences in countries such as India and China, where we have seen strong growth; again, there has been no short-term change in these arrangements.

Tourism Ireland will roll out a €4 million promotional campaign in Britain between now and the end of 2016. The campaign will incorporate a major focus on city breaks, as well as on attracting visitors to more rural areas. Highlights of the activity include a series of new online films starring well-known actor Richard E Grant; co-operative promotions with important carriers like Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Irish Ferries and Stena Line; extensive online advertising; as well as a busy programme of digital, PR and social media activity.

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