Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (971)

John Curran


971. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of UK tourists that came here in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; his plans to ensure that the number of tourists from the UK does not decrease; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45391/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Using data from the CSO and other sources, Fáilte Ireland publishes estimates of the number of tourists coming to Ireland from both Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The aggregate estimates for 2011 to 2018 are as follows:

Year (000's)

2011 6,230

2012 6,033

2013 6,455

2014 6,729

2015 6,853

2016 7,006

2017 6,777

2018 6,836

(2019 year to date estimates are not available).

The initial impact of the Brexit referendum for tourism saw a reduction of 5% in the number of tourists coming from Britain in 2017 (compared to 2016) on foot of the depreciation in Sterling. The GB market was steady in 2018, with the number of visits up marginally compared to 2017. To date in 2019, the number of GB visitors remains steady, but is still down when compared to 2016.

Brexit has been a major factor in my Department’s planning for some time now, particularly given the importance of Britain as a key source market for tourism.

In 2019 the Government allocated almost €8 million in additional funding to the tourism agencies specifically to respond to the impact of Brexit. In addition, I was pleased to secure a €7 million supplementary budget for the tourism agencies for the remainder of 2019 to mitigate the on-going effects of Brexit uncertainty.

This additional funding has enabled Tourism Ireland to put in place a programme of marketing activity, post-Brexit research, and stakeholder information to ensure that potential visitors in relevant markets fully appreciate that it is "business as usual" for Ireland and the Irish tourism industry. Tourism Ireland also concluded a wide-ranging review of the British market in early 2019 and implemented its new market strategy for growth in the GB market in June.

Fáilte Ireland is supporting tourism enterprises to respond to the impact of Brexit. The ‘Get Brexit Ready’ programme is helping businesses to assess the risk and respond to changes and will also assist the sector in diversifying into other markets. Fáilte Ireland’s work is focusing primarily on border counties and the South East region which have been most adversely affected by the drop in the value of sterling. It is also taking action to promote domestic holidays to visitors from Northern Ireland.

Tourism is a sector that has already been impacted by Brexit and in that regard my Department and the tourism agencies continue to monitor the situation closely, working with our industry colleagues here and our trade partners and carriers in the markets.