Weaker pound 'behind drop in UK tourists visiting Ireland'

The number of UK tourists visiting the Republic of Ireland has declined as the weaker sterling currency has resulted in increased holiday costs for British travellers, new figures suggest.

Data published by the Irish government indicates that between January and July this year, the number of British tourists visiting the country dropped to two million, down from 2.2 million in the same period last year. This amounts to a 6.2% decrease.

It is believed that this may be in part due to recent currency fluctuations which have seen the price of the pound sterling drop compared to the euro.

This has resulted in a weaker exchange rate for travellers from the UK, subsequently making Ireland more expensive to visit.

Last June, prior to the Brexit referendum, one euro was valued at £0.76, however the sterling value has dropped amid market uncertainty over EU withdrawal.

Latest exchange rates suggest the sterling stands at £1.075 against the euro. The figures represented an eight-year low for the pound.

Overall, the number of tourists visiting Ireland has increased by 3.1% due to higher numbers of visitors from North America and Australia.

Commenting on the figures, Niall Gibbons, chief executive of the Irish tourism board Tourism Ireland, said: "As anticipated, the currency challenge for Irish tourism is very real and the drop in British visitor numbers (-6.2%) for the January to July period reflects that.

"The decline in the value of sterling has made holidays and short breaks here more expensive for British visitors; and economic uncertainty is undoubtedly making British travellers more cautious about their discretionary spending.

"This is impacting on travel to Ireland."

Tim Fenn, chief executive of the Irish Hotels Federation, said he was "concerned" by the drop in UK visitors.

He said: "Our industry faces significant risks associated with Brexit due to the continued economic uncertainty and the marked fall in the sterling exchange rate, with regional tourism likely to be hit hardest."

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