Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Sport Robert Troy TD says he is concerned following the publication of the latest overseas tourism numbers. Deputy Troy pointed out that the figures show that the number of UK tourists visiting Ireland is continuing to decline.

The information published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that, while overall visitor numbers continue to rise, the numbers visiting from the UK is down 6.8% on last year.

Deputy Troy said, “Minister Ross has been warned time and time again that Brexit will have a detrimental impact on Ireland’s tourism industry. However he has ignored the warning signs to date and has failed to put a mitigation plan in place to deal with the problem. The latest figures released from the CSO show that the concerns have now become reality.

“The number of UK tourists visiting Ireland is declining at a rapid pace due to Brexit. The ongoing devaluation of the Sterling is also having an impact on the tourism industry. However Minister Ross has failed to take any steps to date to deal with this emerging crisis. Instead he has taken to self-congratulating himself regarding visitor numbers in the wider tourism industry.

“Minister Ross does not seem to get just how worrying these trends are. He continues to downplay the 7% decline in UK Visitor numbers, by saying that overall tourism numbers are still marginally up on last year. However the reality is that UK visitors are the bread and butter of the tourism sector, accounting for 41% of total overseas visitors to Ireland.

“Given the sheer number of visitors from the UK, they cannot be replaced 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 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. The Minister’s strategy 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. The tourism industry needs a support fund for areas that will be hit especially hard from a sharp decline in visitors from the UK.”