Fáilte Ireland has confirmed a €5m support fund for the tourism sector, as it prepares for Brexit.
The fund marks a significant ramping up of its activities to ensure Irish tourism is both ‘product-ready’ and ‘industry-ready’ ahead of the UK withdrawal from the EU.
The support pot, which falls under the tourism body’s Get Brexit Ready programme, will help businesses to assess risk, respond to changes to successfully diversify into other markets. Businesses in border counties and in the south east region are being targeted with it as to date they have been most adversely affected by the devaluation of sterling and the drop in British visitors.
As well as providing support for over 1,000 businesses across the country, Fáilte Ireland will also deliver a more targeted programme of training and mentoring for more than 100 businesses in border counties.
The investment comes as new figures published by Fáilte Ireland show the number one concern among tourism businesses is Brexit, particularly those in northern counties.
The Fáilte Ireland Tourism Industry Barometer is a survey of more than 500 tourism businesses nationwide, providing insight into past performance and future prospects. The latest figures reveal that 69% tourism businesses cite Brexit as their top concern – a figure which rises to 80% for accommodation providers in northern counties and 90% in the restaurant sector, both of which reported a decline in their business from the UK last year.
Fáilte Ireland is warning that the fallout from a hard Brexit could cost more than €380m to the sector.
Paul Kelly, Chief Executive, Fáilte Ireland, said: “Our key message to tourism businesses is ‘prepare and diversify’. Any tourism business which does not have Brexit contingencies as a central focus of its 2019 business plan needs to act fast.”