The failure of Minister Shane Ross to develop a national mitigation plan for the tourism industry in light of Brexit is a dereliction of his duties as Minister, according to Donegal Fianna Fáil Deputy, Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher.
The Leas Cheann Comhairle said that it was a failure on the part of the Government to prepare and protect the Irish tourism market for post Brexit shocks.
Speaking following the release of the latest overseas visitor numbers by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which showed that while overall visitor numbers continue to rise, numbers from the UK are down 6.4% on last year, he said: “I have raised this matter earlier this year when I highlighted the potential dangers of the decline in sterling and the dynamic from the fallout of the Brexit decision.”
The Dungloe-based politician said that rapidly falling tourism visitors from the UK due to sterling devaluation is now becoming a reality and would be concerning for the people of Donegal who depend and benefit directly from the UK market.
The Fianna Fáil Deputy said that Minister Ross has been an absentee Minister for Tourism so far in this Government, focusing only on PR events but totally absent in terms of policy formation.
“Minister Ross just does not seem to get just how dangerous these trends could be for the Irish tourism sector. While overall tourism numbers are still marginally up on last year, the reality is that UK visitors are the bedrock of the tourism sector, accounting for 41 per cent of the total number of overseas visitors to Ireland. Many smaller tourism businesses in particular will feel the pinch if numbers from the UK continue to decline at this rate especially in the years ahead,” he said.
Deputy Gallagher added that the government in the forthcoming budget must prioritise tourism investment, with special emphasis on the UK market in terms of promotion and marketing.
“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,” he said.