Mayo hoteliers concerned by drop in UK visitors

MAYO hoteliers have expressed serious concern about the significant drop in British visitors during the first seven months of the year. 

The latest CSO figures show a decrease of 6.2% in trips from our largest market compared to the same period last year. 

Darren Madden, Chair of the Mayo Branch of the Irish Hotels Federation, said the recent recovery in tourism is now under threat as a result of Brexit, with fewer people from Britain visiting Ireland due to the significant drop in the value of Sterling and increased economic uncertainty. 

He noted that Ireland is extremely reliant on visitors from Britain, which accounts for over 40% of overseas visitors.  

He stated: “Tourism in Mayo in particular relies heavily on the UK market, so any fall off in numbers gives cause for serious concern. 

“While the drop in visitors from Britain has been offset by increases in other markets, such as North America and the rest of Europe, we are seeing a significant slowdown in tourism growth so far this year. 

An additional concern is a weakening in visitor numbers from Northern Ireland that is also occurring. These are worrying trends both for the national tourism industry and our local economy.”

While Mr Madden says that Mayo hoteliers are optimistic about the potential for continued growth that tourism can bring to the local economy, he stated the industry has some pressing challenges which underline the fragility of the sector’s recovery.  

“As the latest figures show, there is no denying that our industry faces significant risks associated with Brexit.  Unfortunately regional tourism is likely to be hit hardest as the UK market has the widest regional seasonal spread of visitors.

 “We are calling on the government to take the necessary steps to protect Irish tourism and to avoid any changes in policy that would weaken our sector’s ability to deal with these risks.  The 9% VAT rate for tourism accommodation, in particular, is vital in underpinning and sustaining the continued growth of the sector.”