Tourist numbers to Ireland fell by 1.1% year-on-year in July, as the plunging value of the pound means more Brits are avoiding the destination.
For the period of January to July, there were almost 5.6 million overseas visitors, up 3.1% year-on-year, but numbers from Britain – Ireland’s biggest market – fell 6.2%.
Niall Gibbons (pictured), chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “We are extremely conscious of the decline in tourist numbers we’ve seen for the month of July alone.
“The currency challenge for Irish tourism is very real.
“The decline in the value of sterling has made holidays and short breaks here more expensive for British visitors; and economic uncertainty is undoubtedly making British travellers more cautious about their discretionary spending.”
He added: “Competitiveness and the value for money message are more important than ever in Britain right now.
“Tourism Ireland is placing a greater focus on our ‘culturally curious’ audience, who are less impacted by currency fluctuations.”
He also pointed out that the bumper growth seen from North America and other long-haul markets was starting to slow.
Arrivals from North America are up 17.4% for January to July but rose by less than 4% up for July alone.
Visitors from Australia and Developing Markets grew by 17.5% for January to July but only 7% for July.
Those from Mainland Europe grew by 4.3% for the seven-month period but fell 2% for July.
• The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland has also warned about the impact of Brexit on visitor numbers, saying it poses a threat to government plans to create 50,000 tourism jobs.
The group fears the falling value of sterling against the euro will damage the Irish economy.
It says the Irish drinks and hospitality sector employs 92,000 people and is especially important in rural Ireland.
The group is calling for a ‘Brexit Budget’ in October with support for the tourism and hospitality sector, including a reduction in alcohol taxation.