29/11/2018

NI Tourism Vulnerable Without Brexit Deal

Tourism in Northern Ireland is more vulnerable to Brexit than any other UK region due to its reliance on British tourists for the majority of its income, it has emerged.

Chief executive of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons, said the withdrawal from the EU in March next year is the "single biggest risk factor" for the industry.

The amount of people visiting Northern Ireland is expected to reach over 2.2 million before the year is out, with British visitors accounting for over 60% of that figure.

"It's an extremely important industry," Mr Gibbons said.

"We know from our research that if more people in Britain decide to stay at home it’s more likely that Devon and Cornwall, the Lake District and Scotland would be the winners than Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands because it involves getting a plane or a boat."

About 70% of all business in Northern Ireland is reliant upon the GB market, Mr Gibbons continued, before stating that a deal is vital to ensure economic certainty and stability.
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"When people are feeling uncertain, and if their pocket is going to get hit, the first thing that stops is discretionary spending which often is tourism.

"It's important that a deal gets done… because ultimately consumers require certainty in their lives, that's what keeps them travelling."

Mr Gibbons added that contingency planning is well under way in the cross-border organisation, which promotes the island of Ireland overseas as a holiday destination.

The Irish Government allocated an extra 10 million euro (£8.9m) to Tourism Ireland, to be used to bolster marketing efforts and counter Brexit uncertainty.

Mr Gibbons added that the company is set to launch a worldwide marketing campaign for 2019 that will feature on mainstream TV in the UK.

"The ad campaign will reach 40% of all GB adults in our target market.

"We're still looking to grow visitor spend from Britain next year, but that could have to change in the next weeks and months."

He insisted that the continuation of global travel next year is the bottom line.

"The British market is important, that's 70 million people, but there will be 1.3 billion people around the globe taking holidays next year and we've to make sure we're positioned for that too."



(JG/MH)

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