With the UK leaving the EU at the end of January, Fáilte Ireland convened a meeting of its Industry Brexit Advisory Group at its headquarters in Dublin on Thursday 23rd January.

The group was established by Fáilte Ireland in 2017 to help prepare the wider hospitality industry to be Brexit-ready. CEOs and senior representatives from businesses and organisations working across the industry gathered to discuss their concerns and plan the next steps in dealing with the impact of Brexit on the sector.

Key actions from Fáilte Ireland’s Industry Brexit Advisory Group meeting include a continuing focus on business retention from UK and Northern Ireland through leveraging regional brands (Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Dublin).

The group was given a preview of Fáilte Ireland’s new marketing campaign called Keep Discovering which aims to boost home holidays. This will involve a full media campaign targeting the domestic and Northern Ireland market to be launched in February.

Fáilte Ireland’s Brexit Response Programme includes a number of development programmes to give tourism businesses the tools they need to adapt and prepare for Brexit. These bespoke supports offer insights and expertise from leading tourism specialists in the areas of international sales; UK and Northern Ireland market retention; diversification into new and emerging markets such as China and India; improving business performance and competitiveness within the Irish tourism sector.

Fáilte Ireland’s Industry Brexit Advisory Group meeting was chaired by Paul Kelly, Fáilte Ireland’s CEO. Speaking after the meeting, he said: “2019 was a mixed year for the tourism industry with little growth in overseas visitor numbers and an anticipated 2% decline in both Northern Ireland visitors and domestic trips with an estimated overall decline of between 1.5% and 2% in total tourism revenue. Our research shows that business sentiment was down towards the end of last year, fuelled by rising costs, weaker than anticipated demand and uncertainty around Brexit.

“In addition. early indications are that for the first time in many years there may be very little, if any growth in air access capacity on routes that are strong for inbound tourism in 2020. This will make it harder for the industry to grow their overseas tourism revenue this year.”

“The meeting of the Brexit Advisory Group focused on the impact that Brexit is having now on the tourism industry and on our shared and agreed plans for 2020,” stated Jenny De Saulles, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Sector Development.

“Brexit certainty for 2020 has offered some short term clarity that has helped businesses to plan better, but there is certainly no room for complacency as the future implications of Brexit and what happens after the transition period ends at the end of this year remains a major concern for the sector.

“While we wait for clarity on the operational specifics of Brexit to fully understand its impact and any potential disruption Fáilte Ireland will be delivering a range of supports designed to build resilience in the tourism industry. We’re working with businesses in assessing the risks, improving their channel mix and retaining business from Northern Ireland and the UK while equipping them with the knowledge, expertise and tools to diversify into other markets,” added De Saulles.

To find out more about Fáilte Ireland’s Brexit response programme, see www.failteireland.ie/Supports.

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