The deal struck between the European Union (E.U.) and the United Kingdom earlier this month continued the Brexit saga that started with the U.K. voting to leave the E.U. in June 2016.
Since then, travelers and travel companies have been taking a wait-and-see approach as to how it would impact the industry. And while some uncertainty still remains, tour operators speaking to TMR said that there is clarity on, perhaps, the country most affected by the news outside of the U.K. — Ireland.
The good news is that earlier this month, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May announced that there would be no hard border between the lower 26 counties in Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and the top six, Northern Ireland.
“We are highly confident it won't be detrimental to the destination and don’t foresee any changes nor impact for our guests globally traveling with Trafalgar and Brendan Vacations,” Trafalgar and Brendan Vacations CEO Gavin Tollman told TMR.
The border was a major talking point between the U.K. and Irish governments during Brexit negotiations. Initially, the British government published position papers that stated Britain would not put any physical infrastructure between Northern Ireland and the lower 26 counties.
Marc Kavanagh, the president of Spectre Vacations, told TMR that the news “delighted” Spectre.
“We were delighted to learn that the U.K. had reached an agreement with Brussels and that Theresa May had confirmed that, post-Brexit there would be no ‘hard’ border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland,” he said.
According to Kavanagh, Spectre is seeing “significant growth” in FIT and group business to Northern Ireland, most of which is entering from the Republic of Ireland, coming in through airports in Dublin or Shannon.
“The prospect of a 'hard' border was, of course, a cause for concern and would have made it very difficult for us to maintain the momentum. The retention of a Common Travel area is great news,” he told TMR.
For Tollman, one thing definitely will not change: Ireland’s appeal to travelers.
“The appeal of the Emerald Isle definitely won’t change – the people and welcome will remain as warm as ever. Our commitment will certainly continue as we seek to further grow our ever-expanding portfolio,” he said. “We look forward to working collaboratively pre- and post-Brexit to ensure that the value of tourism and its contribution of GDP to Ireland is firmly upheld.”