Tourism must get ‘Brexit Ready’

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS NEWS - MARK PAUL Busi­ness Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent

Fáilte Ire­land, the State tourism author­ity, plans to fight to stem the de­cline in Bri­tish tourist num­bers to Ire­land.

It has also launched a “Get Brexit Ready” pro­gramme to help tourism busi­nesses deal with the ef­fects of fall­ing vis­i­tor num­bers from Bri­tain, due to its vote to exit the Euro­pean Union.

Vis­i­tor num­bers from the UK ac­count for more than 40 per cent of in­bound tourists, but are down 6 per cent this year. Fáilte Ire­land es­ti­mates this will cost the in­dus­try at least €88 mil­lion by the end of 2017.

Bri­tish visi­tors ac­count for more than 60 per cent of visi­tors to some bor­der ar­eas, such as Mon­aghan or Leitrim. Fáilte Ire­land is es­pe­cially tar­get­ing the Brexit ini­tia­tive at the heav­ily ex­posed east, south­west and bor­der re­gions, where it says UK visi­tors bring in €1 bil­lion of busi­ness.

The Get Brexit Ready pro­gramme com­prises a web­site (get­brex­itready.com) which con­tains a self-as­sess­ment tool and sur­vey for busi­nesses, to help them as­cer­tain how pre­pared they are for Brexit.

The tool as­sesses the readi­ness of busi­nesses around themes in­clud­ing their ex­po­sure to the Bri­tish mar­ket and abil­ity to shore up this busi­ness, their abil­ity to di­ver­sify, and their staffing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Get Brexit Ready will also in­clude a na­tion­wide se­ries of work­shops and lo­cal Brexit-themed ini­tia­tives in the com­ing months.

The pro­gramme was launched yes­ter­day by Brendan Grif­fin, Min­is­ter of State for Tourism, who in­sisted that Brexit should “not be a rea­son to give up on the UK” mar­ket.

Paul Kelly, Fáilte Ire­land’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said that not only is Brexit crimp­ing UK vis­i­tor num­bers to Ire­land,

The tourism author­ity is also en­gaged in a pro­gramme to tar­get more Chi­nese visi­tors

but the fall in ster­ling has also made it a sharper com­peti­tor for Ire­land when tar­get­ing busi­ness from the US and else­where in Europe.

Over com­ing weeks, Fáilte Ire­land will hold Brexit in­for­ma­tion ses­sions for tourism busi­nesses in Dublin, Cavan, Bun­do­ran, Cork and Wex­ford.

Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion brief­ings and train­ing events are planned na­tion­wide, with ses­sions sched­uled to date un­til mid-De­cem­ber.

Mr Kelly said Fáilte Ire­land hoped to di­rectly en­gage with up to 1,000 busi­nesses via its work­shops by the end of the year.

He ac­knowl­edged that the per­for­mance of the US tourist mar­ket, which is up by about a fifth, was a “sav­ing grace” for the in­dus­try in the face of Brexit.

Fáilte Ire­land said it would fight to re­tain Bri­tish tourism busi­ness for Ire­land, such as the sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of UK golf tourists who visit Ire­land.

It is also try­ing to en­cour­age in­bound UK tour op­er­a­tors to open up new itin­er­ar­ies in Ire­land.

To re­duce ex­po­sure to the UK mar­ket, Mr Kelly said the tourism author­ity is also en­gaged in a pro­gramme to tar­get more Chi­nese visi­tors, along with the for­eign mar­ket­ing agency Tourism Ire­land and of­fi­cials in the north.

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