Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has expressed concern following new tourism figures which reveal a fall-off in the number of British visitors to Ireland.  The statistics from the CSO show a 6% drop in British tourists between December and February.

Deputy Smith commented, “These latest figures are not completely surprising, but they are worrying, and confirm the negative impact which Britain’s decision to leave the EU is having here in Ireland.  Tourism is one of our biggest sectors and British travellers make up over 41% of total overseas visitors to Ireland.  If the decline in visitor numbers from Britain continues, it will have a detrimental impact on the tourism industry and the wider economy.

“The latest figures made available by the CSO show British tourist arrivals to Ireland declined by 6% between December – February. What’s even more alarming is the fact that, looking at February alone, there was a decline of 22% compared to the previous year. This demonstrates that the negative impact of Brexit on the tourism industry is accelerating. If this trend continues then there will be 850,000 fewer arrivals from Britain to Ireland.

“This region is already suffering losses in business as a weakened Sterling is attracting more people north of the border.  We cannot afford to lose our competitiveness and need to ensure that our tourist offering remains strong.

“Minister Ross’s failure to devise a tourism policy for dealing with Brexit is deeply concerning.  He does not appear to be fully engaged with the seriousness of the situation and the necessity for his Department to develop a strategy to limit the impact of Brexit on our tourism industry.  Nowhere is this more important than here in the border region, where tourism is beginning to flourish again.

“I’m calling on the Minister to take his tourism brief seriously and start acting to ensure that this vital industry is as Brexit-proofed as is possible, to save jobs and ensure growth in the economy”.