Fáilte Ireland is forecasting tourism growth of as much as 5pc in 2019, despite concerns around Brexit.
The tourism development authority unveiled its plans for 2019 – including a greater focus on business tourism, the promotion of short breaks in the off-peak season, extending festivals, and improving Ireland’s international reputation as a food island.
Speaking at the unveiling of the aims, Tourism Minister Shane Ross said the “significant” additional funding secured for tourism in the Budget would play a key role in developing Ireland’s tourism offering, both in improving visitor experience and diversifying into new markets.
On the subject of Brexit, the authority estimates that a worst case scenario would cost the sector between €380m and €390m.
Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, added that the tourism industry did a slightly more limited projection, which estimated that a worst-case Brexit would have a €260m impact on the sector.
“We think one of the important impacts will be if sterling goes down, there will be a loss of visitors from overseas markets to Ireland that end up going to our nearest and closes competitor, the UK. But they are just scenarios and it really depends on the shape of the final deal.”
So far this year, the island of Ireland has welcomed over 9.6 million overseas tourists and hosted 9.8 million domestic trips, generating €7.8bn in revenue. The sector now employs approximately 260,000 people, an increase of 20,000 since 2017.
Responding to questions about a potential third terminal at Dublin Airport, Mr Ross said that consultations with stakeholders on the subject were taking place “as we speak”.
He added that he hoped they would conclude in January, after which a decision would be taken by the Government.
“You have to take very early decisions in terms of airport infrastructure and that decision would be taken – if we have a third terminal, it is not decided at all – but if it happens we would hope to have it in place by the early 2030s.”
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