The creation of 3,400 extra tourism jobs has been lauded by The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC), but allied to a warned that the sector faces external threats.
The tourism industry was worth €7.3 billion to the Irish economy last year and over eight million international tourists visited Ireland in 2015. The sector paid €1.8 billion to the exchequer in taxes last year. 2016 has continued to perform strongly with 13% growth in overseas visitors for the first six months, ITIC reported.
ITIC said that the latest CSO quarterly figures show that tourism has increased employment further and is Ireland’s largest business employer. The sector now accounts for one in nine jobs nationally. Recent tourism jobs include the opening of two flagship visitor attractions in Dublin – GPO’s Witness History and Epic Ireland, ITIC said.
However, ITIC has warned that growth and regional balance should not be taken for granted. The group said that the decisions taken in Budget 2017 would be critical to the sector’s performance, especially in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum in the UK.
Paul Gallagher, chairman of ITIC, said, “Sustainable growth for tourism in Ireland is predicated on a competitive industry and appropriate long-term government policies and investment strategies.The tourism industry in Ireland has created 40,000 jobs over the past four years. However external factors such as Brexit risk making the trading environment more difficult and very uncertain.”
ITIC has called on the Government to retain competitiveness and restore investment in the tourism sector as matters of priority in its pre-budget submission, particularly to cope with the effects being felt due to the Brexit vote in the UK. Sterling’s depreciation and concerns about the UK economy risk damaging Ireland’s largest source market of visitors.
“The tourism Vat rate at 9% puts Ireland on an even keel with other EU countries and it is very important that this be retained in Budget 2017,” he said.