Irish travel agents spent 68% more on UK travel and accommodation for the year to August than they did over the same period in 2016, according to new figures from FEXCO Corporate Payments.

More than 400 transactions made by Irish travel agents through FEXCO during the first eight months of both 2016 and 2017 were analysed, and although the total number of UK-bound transactions increased by a relatively modest 9% over the comparative timeframe, the average transaction size rose by more than half (54%), from €3,978 in 2016 to €6,110 in 2017.

FEXCO said the findings suggest travel agents are buying more UK bed nights for customers this year compared to last, as more Irish travellers choose Britain over other European destinations.

The company said the research suggests that the jump in the size - rather than the frequency - of Irish travel agents’ sterling purchases could also indicate an increased appetite among Irish tourists to capitalise on the weak pound, and treat themselves to a more luxurious trip when going to the UK.

Commenting on the research, Head of Dealing at FEXCO David Lamb said: "Our data shows that Irish travel agents are responding to Ireland’s booming demand for travel to - and accommodation in - the UK.

"Their increased spending is likely to be driven by their customers choosing the UK over euro zone countries in order to benefit from sterling weakness.

"The flipside of this is that the consistent weakness of sterling against the euro for much of 2017 has led many British tourists to stay away from Ireland.

"Fáilte Ireland, the tourism promotion body, now predicts there will be 300,000 fewer British visitors to Ireland this year."

"Fortunately, Ireland’s tourism industry has been insulated from major fallout by the uptick in visitors from elsewhere, including an 4% increase from other European countries and a 17% increase from North America," he added.