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24 Jan 2017

New Tourism Ireland RedC research shows Brexit implications for tourism

Tourism Ireland has unveiled findings from research conducted in Britain last week about the potential impacts of Brexit on tourism to the island of Ireland in 2017 and beyond. 

Tourism Ireland commissioned RedC to conduct research among 2,000 British consumers, to assess their propensity to travel overseas in a post-Brexit world. The research shows that, up until now, there has been no significant change in the holiday intentions of Britons i.e. just 7% say they are less likely to holiday overseas in 2017. However, of those Britons who will consider travelling overseas for their holiday in 2017, the Red C research indicates that:
  • 50% will spend less while on holiday;
  • 37% will reduce their holiday budget;
  • 26% will change their accommodation type;
  • 25% will reduce their length of stay;
  • 18% say the Brexit vote will influence their holiday choice in the next year; and
  • 17% will postpone a trip outside the UK.
Approximately 65 million overseas trips are taken by British travellers each year. Leading tourism experts Oxford Economics estimate that outbound travel from Great Britain to all destinations will decline by -2.5% in 2017 i.e. 1.5 million fewer trips overseas. Given our reliance on Britain (about 40% of all our overseas visitors are British), tourism to the island of Ireland is likely to be more impacted than to any other destination.

A key element of Tourism Ireland’s strategy since 2014 has been market diversification – which has seen Mainland Europe become the largest contributor of overseas tourism revenue and will see the United States overtake Great Britain as the number two contributor of tourism revenue over the next few years. In 2017, Tourism Ireland will continue to implement its market diversification strategy; the organisation intends to maximise holiday revenue through investment in Mainland Europe and North America. 

In Britain, Tourism Ireland will place a greater focus on its ‘culturally curious’ audience, who are less impacted by currency fluctuations. The organisation will have an extensive, year-long programme which will include a greater focus on publicity. Tourism Ireland will also undertake an expanded partnership programme with airlines, ferry operators and tour operators, communicating a strong price-led message to drive home value for money.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Since the EU referendum in the United Kingdom, Tourism Ireland has been monitoring developments closely, to better understand and plan for the implications of Brexit. Tourism Ireland believes that the adverse impact of Brexit can be mitigated through a combination of aggressive overseas marketing and the continuation of existing successful wider policy initiatives.”

Niall Gibbons continued: “The depreciation of the pound against the euro since the UK referendum on Brexit means that value for money will be a key message for us in Britain this year. The good news is that access from Britain to Ireland remains strong – with 237,000 airline seats and 45,000 car spaces on ferries available each week. We will continue to work with our industry partners, at home and in Britain, to highlight the ease of getting to the island of Ireland.”

Movements in exchange rates have meant that a holiday in Ireland is more expensive for British holidaymakers. In the short-term, therefore, value for money is more important than ever in order to maintain our competitiveness. Northern Ireland, which is not susceptible to currency fluctuations, may enjoy some short-term advantage. Tourism Ireland will continue to undertake a strong programme of promotions for Northern Ireland, highlighting iconic experiences like Titanic Belfast (voted the world’s leading visitor attraction at the recent World Travel Awards). The organisation will also leverage major sporting events like the Irish Open at Portstewart and the semi-finals and final of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, which will take place in Belfast in August 2017.

In the medium-term, other issues include the Common Travel Area, which is vital for tourism, as well as clarity on the future of the British Irish Visa Scheme, which is essential to grow tourism from emerging markets like China and India. 

2016 was the best year ever for overseas tourism to the island of Ireland, with some 10.5 million visitors (+11% over 2015) contributing more than €5.4 billion (+10%) in revenue to the economy, supporting about 263,000 jobs. We welcomed 4.9 million British visitors to the island of Ireland, worth €1.5 billion. 

Click here to watch an interview with Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons, who puts the findings in context.

Notes To Editors

  • Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
  • Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 220,000 people.
  • In 2016, we welcomed approximately 10.5 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of about €5.4 billion.
  • Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.ireland.com, 29 market sites available in 11 language versions around the world, which attracted 19.37 million visitors in 2016.