Failte Ireland unveiled plans to spend up to €5 million ahead of Brexit, with the majority of funding going towards the border counties. It is believed this plan has been in the works since the Brexit vote but efforts have been stepped up recently in large part due to the political uncertainty in the United Kingdom.
The border counties comprise of Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. Due to their proximity to the north and the volume of trade between the counties, it is believed that these will be some of the hardest affected should Brexit negotiations not prove fruitful in the near future.
Tourism is one of the key areas that both businesses and the Irish government are looking at closely due to the large volume of visitors who may be affected post-Brexit. Highland radio noted that a hard Brexit may cost up to €380 million in the tourism sector.
Failte Ireland has stated that the money will be used to help business diversify into other markets and manage the impact a devaluation in the sterling and a decrease in visitors may have.
An even closer look shows some of the areas that Failte Ireland is specifically targeting, such as new markets and the type of tourism which they aim to bring in.
€1.75 million is to be allocated to commercial development allowing Irish business to target the US market with products and services that typically would have been geared towards the UK market.
Without forgetting the UK Failte Ireland are also using resources to highlight the benefits of Ireland to the UK post-Brexit. This is namely in within business tourism and the golfing sector, two areas which have always maintained positive experienced for UK customers.
Reasons for the concern:
Planning has been in motion since the Brexit vote, however, the recent tumultuous events in the UK have made the likelihood of a hard Brexit more likely, business have become more concerned.
A recent survey of 500 business has shown the up to 70% see Brexit as the biggest challenge for them in the future. This rises to 80% for accommodation and a staggering 90% for restaurants in the border counties. Almost 3.4 million British visitors visit Ireland every year spending an estimated €1.6 billion.
The uncertainty of Brexit, Visa needs and the power of the sterling may have a huge impact on many of these businesses and how they operate.
Failte Irelands chief executive Paul Kelly said: “As we await the final outcome of Brexit, and with the situation changing on a daily basis, it is still difficult to quantify the range and scope of impacts that Brexit will have.
Showing that even the heads of some of these institutions aren’t certain of all the effects the Brexit may have.
In the same statement, he called for businesses to ready Brexit plans and diversify. Looking at other markets or even locally may help business throughout the upcoming months as they will also be approaching the summer.
The increased VAT rate introduced by the Irish government has also been a determining factor in Failte Ireland’s approach to recent events in the UK.
As the sterling fluctuates businesses are going to have to be extra cautious and aware of events within the UK.
RTE reported that another €1 million is set to be allocated to the training of staff in the tourism sector effectively making them ready for new customers and a new type of tourism depending on their location and the businesses that they are in.
It is believed the northern counties will have the toughest time due to the largely rural landscape of the region. Although this is one of the key factors for visitors, many may choose to stay in the North rather than cross the border.
On the ground:
It seems most of the news lately regards Brexit but not many people have a true understanding of what may or may not occur due to the situation in London.
Full details of Teresa Mays proposal weren’t even released before it was rejected and with only 70 days to go, it seems more unlikely that a successful resolution is going to be found.
Many industries across Ireland are gearing towards a hard Brexit which will have a huge impact on the economy of the island and with UK relations due to our shared history and closely linked economies.
Many businesses will be looking at diversification and markets in the US and EU. Those without a plan should really be looking at ways to work around Brexit if they have not already begun.