Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Sport, Robert Troy, has warned that the tourism industry faces significant challenges as a result of Brexit and has called for the retention of the 9 per cent VAT rate to help overcome these difficulties.
The number of UK tourists visiting Ireland has dropped by 6.8 per cent in the last year, which highlights the importance of cost competitiveness for the tourism industry.
“Rapidly falling tourism visitors from the UK due to Brexit and sterling devaluation is now becoming a reality,” Deputy Troy said. “However, I get a clear sense from Minister Ross, and the Government in general, of self-satisfaction with the tourism figures.
“While overall tourism numbers may be up, the numbers visiting from the UK are rapidly declining. This is extremely worrying as UK tourists are the bedrock of the Irish tourism industry. The reality is that UK visitors account for 41 per cent of total overseas visitors to Ireland. Now is not the right time to increase VAT in the hospitality sector. In order to remain competitive in the global tourism market, Ireland must ensure that the quality of our services remain high, that prices remain reasonable, and that access to our ports and airports increases.”
Deputy Troy said it is vital that the savings created by the retention of the 9 per cent VAT rate for the tourist sector be passed on to the consumer.
“Given the sheer number of visitors from the UK, they cannot be replaced by visitors from other countries,” he said. “Many smaller tourism businesses in particular will feel the pinch if numbers from the UK continue to decline at this rate.
“The sector is crying out for a national mitigation plan to reduce the impact of Brexit and global uncertainty on our sector. It’s disappointing that Minister Ross has failed to act on this to date. We need a new overarching tourism policy to reassure the industry that there is a strategy in place for the consequences of Brexit, and we need a support fund for areas that will be hit especially hard from a sharp decline in visitors from Britain.”