The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) has warned that sustaining success in the Irish tourism sector in 2019 will be a challenge. Tourism in Ireland hit new highs in 2018 with a record number of international visitors and the industry worth €9.2 billion annually.
However, the umbrella group representing Irish tourism interests, flagged that Brexit, VAT hikes, and weakened competitiveness will put significant pressure on the industry in the year ahead. ITIC stressed that more needs to be done to support Irish tourism and has called on the Government to match the industry’s ambition for the sector.
Ireland earned an estimated €6.9 billion from overseas tourism this year which was made up of €5.2 billion spent by overseas visitors when in Ireland and €1.7 billion spent with Irish airline and ferry companies. An additional €1.9 billion is likely to have been generated in domestic tourism revenue with a further €350 million earned from Northern Ireland visitors.
Expenditure by international visitors to Ireland was up 7% on the previous year with 25,000 new tourism jobs created in 2018 and the sector now employing 270,000 people nationwide, confirming its position as Ireland’s largest indigenous industry.
ITIC estimates that earnings from tourism for 2018 accrued €2.1 billion to the exchequer in direct tourism-related taxes. Numbers are based on latest CSO data and it is expected that 9.6 million international tourists will have visited Ireland in 2018 with double digit growth from North America and Europe.
Commenting on the figures, ITIC’s Chairman, Maurice Pratt said, "It has been another strong year for Irish tourism with record visitor numbers in both volume and value terms. 25,000 new jobs have been created in the sector in the last 12 months and tourism remains Ireland’s largest indigenous employer. This is testament to the quality of Ireland’s tourism product and the ability of the industry to deliver a fantastic experience."
He added, "Brexit is a major ongoing concern for Irish tourism. Weak sterling and continued uncertainty over the shape of the UK withdrawal agreement has meant no growth from our nearest neighbour and biggest singles source market. Thankfully other markets such as North America and Germany have been particularly buoyant."