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Brexit looms over Irish tourism

THE Brexit factor will be an issue for Irish tourism to deal with in the year ahead, it has been suggested.Tourism sector sentiment, on the rise for the last few years, may now be plateauing as concerns about Brexit take hold, according to Fáilte Ireland’s latest Tourism Barometer Survey.

Results from the survey show that business sentiment across the tourism sector remains buoyant, but there is evidence of optimism tempered by caution within the industry, as 2016 ended and attention turned to 2017 – fuelled mainly by the uncertainties around Brexit.

Fáilte Ireland’s Tourism Business Sentiment Index (reflecting 2016 performance and 2017 expectations) shows that, for the first time in years, there has been a slight drop in positive sentiment. While three quarters (76%) remain confident about their business, the upward trend seen since 2010 has not continued.

With respect to 2017 and the year ahead, the survey indicates that two thirds (64%) of paid serviced accommodation providers (PSA) expect their business to further increase. Hotels and visitor attractions are the most optimistic sectors with 67% expecting to build on growth in 2017.

Fáilte Ireland chairman Michael Cawley said, “While 2016 delivered an impressive performance, we need to remember that much of this growth has been fuelled largely by factors external to the tourism industry, not least increased air access into the island. As a small open tourism economy, we are at the mercy of external events and the unexpected Brexit and US presidential results – with their potential for volatility – have certainly softened the cough of anyone tempted to be complacent.”

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