Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport and Tourism, Robert Troy has said that the failure of Minister Ross to develop a national mitigation plan for the tourism industry in light of Brexit is a dereliction of his duties as Minister.
Speaking following the release of the latest overseas visitor numbers by the CSO, which showed that while overall visitor numbers continue to rise, numbers from the UK are down 6.4% on last year, Deputy Troy said:
“Rapidly falling tourism visitors from the UK due to Brexit and sterling devaluation is now becoming a reality.
“I fear that the decline this year could herald an even more substantial drop-off in UK visitors over the next two years, as Brexit chips away at consumer confidence among British would-be tourists.
“The decline in UK visitor numbers experienced this year is potentially just a taste of things to come.
“Only in recent months have most consumer confidence surveys begun to show that Brexit is hitting the spending habits of UK consumers.
“What is deeply chilling for me is the clear sense, from Minister Ross and the Government in general, of self-satisfaction with the Tourism numbers.
“Minister Ross just does not seem to get just how dangerous these trends could be for Irish tourism.
“While overall tourism numbers are still marginally up on last year, the reality is that UK visitors are the bread and butter of the tourism sector, accounting for 41% of the total number of overseas visitors to Ireland.
“Given the sheer number of visitors from the UK, they cannot be replaced quickly or easily by visitors from other countries.
“Many smaller tourism businesses in particular will feel the pinch if numbers from the UK continue to decline at this rate.
“The tourism sector is crying out for a national mitigation plan to reduce the impact of Brexit and global uncertainty. Yet Minister Ross has done nothing to assure the sector that he has a plan that can protect jobs.
“The strategy of the Minister seems to be to hold endless conferences and press gatherings to boast of our success, gleefully ignoring the looming threat hanging over the sector.
“We need a new overarching tourism policy to reassure the industry that there is a strategy in place for the consequences of Brexit and we need a support fund for areas that will be hit especially hard from a sharp decline in visitors from Britain,” concluded Troy.