Strong growth in revenue from tourism

Wednesday 6 September 2017

The CSO today published its Travel and Tourism Q2 release. This release provides estimates of revenue associated with overseas visits to Ireland in Q2 2017. The figures are based on detailed surveys of overseas visitors and the CSO release also contains detailed information on expenditure, purpose of visit, and bednights.

The CSO release indicates that revenue from overseas trips to Ireland in Q2 was 11.7% higher than the corresponding period in 2016, when carrier receipts (air fares etc.) are excluded. These strong returns for Q2 meant that revenue for the first half of the year was 7.1% ahead of 2016.

In terms of revenue (excluding carrier receipts) associated with overseas visits for Ireland’s main markets in the first six months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016:

  • Revenue associated with visits from North America grew by 16.7%
  • Revenue associated with visits from Mainland Europe grew by 6.5%
  • Revenue associated with visits from long-haul destinations grew by 9.9%
  • Revenue associated with visits from Great Britain fell by 3.7%

Commenting on the figures, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD stated:

“The fact that revenue from overseas visits was over 7% higher than 2016 in the first half of the year is a real positive given how good last year was. As the overseas visitor numbers have already indicated, the North American market is the main driving force behind the growth in revenue. The fact that revenue from Mainland Europe and long-haul markets has also increased is also very welcome and provides evidence that the market diversification strategy in place is working. Visitors from many of these markets tend to have longer stays and, therefore, a higher spend. It is no surprise that revenue from British visitors is down in view of the lower numbers travelling from Britain as a result of the depreciation in Sterling.

The picture remains positive overall. However, our sensitivity to international developments, such as currency fluctuations, means that we must continue to develop resilience in the industry so that we are not over-exposed to any one market. ”

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD, also welcomed the figures and added: “increasing revenue from overseas visitors is vital, particularly for those local economies which are heavily reliant on tourism for jobs and income. We are having another good year but must be conscious of the risks for the sector. The fallout from the UK’s decision to leave the EU is a risk that has materialised and I am pleased to see that the tourism agencies are responding with initiatives to help counteract the effects of this on the industry. Of course, the industry itself has a fundamental role in remaining competitive so that it can continue to adapt to external economic developments.”

Commenting on the figures, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland said: “I am pleased to see growth in overall overseas visitors revenue of +7% in the period January-June this year, driven by +3.4% growth in overseas visitors. Particularly welcome is the continued strong performance from North America, with an increase of +20.9% in visitors and +16.5% in revenue. This means that spending by North American visitors to Ireland has outpaced British visitor spend in the first half of the year. Tourism Ireland’s market diversification strategy has prioritised North America as a market which offers strong return on investment. We have also seen good growth in visitor numbers from Mainland Europe (+4.1%) and exceptionally strong growth from our long-haul markets including Australia (+20.4%).”

“However, the decline in visitor numbers from Britain continues to be a real concern. The fall in the value of sterling has made holidays and short breaks here more expensive for British visitors and, at the same time, made Britain more affordable for visitors from many of our top markets. While we can see the impact of currency changes in today’s CSO results, which confirm a decline of -6% in British visitors in the first half of the year, revenue from the market has held up somewhat better. This year, Tourism Ireland has placed greater focus on ‘culturally curious’ visitors from Britain, who stay longer and spend more, because they are less impacted by currency fluctuations. However, competitiveness and value for money messages are more important than ever right now.”

“Earlier this week, we announced Tourism Ireland’s extensive autumn campaign, to promote late season holidays and boost travel into the early part of 2018. On the back of an increasingly strong access picture, we are rolling out a really comprehensive promotional programme around the world. We are working in close co-operation with industry partners across the island of Ireland, as well as with a wide range of international tour operators and major air and sea carriers. Next month, I will also lead another delegation of Irish tourism industry leaders to London for roundtable meetings with key players in the British travel trade. We will discuss how Tourism Ireland and the tourism industry can best respond to the challenges posed by Brexit as we plan for 2018 and beyond.”

Responding to today’s figures, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly said: “We are very pleased to see overall growth in arrivals is up 4%, with very strong growth in North America (+22%) and other long haul markets (+21%). This, together with overall revenue growth (excluding fares) of 7%, reflects a strong performance so far.

“While we welcome the strong growth, Britain continues to be a challenge. With overall British figures down 6% (and particularly with British holidaymakers down 9%), we cannot just assume that the drop in British holidaymakers will continue to be compensated by better performances in other markets. We have to ensure that we all work together to have the best plan to mitigate this risk. To that end, Fáilte Ireland will shortly be launching a Brexit programme to assist tourism operators to diversify and reposition their business models in order to sustain growth."

Press Office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, 01 604 1090 / 01 604 1093

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