The growing fear of Brexit is already having a negative impact on tourism in Ireland, with the latest figures showing a dramatic decrease in the number of UK tourists visiting our shores this summer.
Rapidly falling tourism visitors from the UK due to Brexit and sterling devaluation is "now becoming a reality".
The latest CSO figures shows that the overall visitor numbers continue to rise in Ireland, but alarmingly the numbers from the UK are down 6.4% on last year.
It's a massive decline of over 73,000-plus visitors from the U.K., if we go by the figures published in the Irish Times in 2016.
And it's an even bigger concern if we take into account the fact that tourism from U.K. had been on the raise during the last few years, increasing by over 9 percent alone last year prior to Brexit.
It's now feared that the decline this year could herald an even more substantial drop-off in UK visitors over the next two years, as Brexit chips away at consumer confidence among British would-be tourists.
Speaking following the release of the latest overseas visitor numbers, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport and Tourism, Robert Troy says: “Rapidly falling tourism visitors from the UK due to Brexit and sterling devaluation is now becoming a reality.
“The decline in UK visitor numbers experienced this year is potentially just a taste of things to come.
“Only in recent months have most consumer confidence surveys begun to show that Brexit is hitting the spending habits of UK consumers."
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport and Tourism, Robert Troy has said that the failure of Minister Ross to develop a national mitigation plan for the tourism industry in light of Brexit is a dereliction of his duties as Minister.
“What is deeply chilling for me is the clear sense, from Minister Ross and the Government in general, of self-satisfaction with the Tourism numbers.
“Minister Ross just does not seem to get just how dangerous these trends could be for Irish tourism.
“While overall tourism numbers are still marginally up on last year, the reality is that UK visitors are the bread and butter of the tourism sector, accounting for 41% of the total number of overseas visitors to Ireland.
“Given the sheer number of visitors from the UK, they cannot be replaced quickly or easily by visitors from other countries.
“Many smaller tourism businesses in particular will feel the pinch if numbers from the UK continue to decline at this rate.
"The tourism sector is crying out for a national mitigation plan to reduce the impact of Brexit and global uncertainty. Yet Minister Ross has done nothing to assure the sector that he has a plan that can protect jobs.
"The strategy of the Minister seems to be to hold endless conferences and press gatherings to boast of our success, gleefully ignoring the looming threat hanging over the sector."
He is calling on the Irish government to take immediate action. "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,” concluded Troy.