Increased Revenue from North American Visitors in Q1

Wednesday 14 June 2017

CSO Tourism and Travel statistics for Q1 2017 published today show that spending in Ireland by North American visitors (excluding carrier fares) for the first quarter of 2017 was up 5.6% on the same period in 2016. Overall, expenditure including carrier fares was up 1.4% on the same period in 2016. When carrier fares are excluded, there was a 1.3% decrease in expenditure by overseas visitors.

Commenting on the figures, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, stated: “It was always going to be difficult to sustain the growth that generated record numbers of overseas visitors and foreign revenue earnings in 2016. That said, the returns from the North American market are encouraging. They reflect the increased visitor numbers from the USA and Canada in the first quarter and demonstrate the value of the increased marketing focus on markets which deliver longer stays and greater revenue returns.

The Q1 revenue returns were affected by lower expenditure by British visitors, which was expected given the decrease in visitors from Britain in the first quarter of the year. The most pressing reason for the drop in visitor numbers and revenue earnings from Great Britain is the weakening of Sterling against the Euro, following the Brexit vote. I remain very conscious of the risks posed by Brexit but I am also aware of the work the agencies are doing, both with the industry here and in our overseas marketing campaigns, to mitigate the risks.”

In terms of the spend (excluding carrier fares) associated with overseas visits, Ireland’s main markets in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016:

  • Revenue associated with visits from North America grew by 5.6%
  • Revenue associated with visits from Great Britain fell by 7.5%
  • Revenue associated with visits from Mainland Europe fell by 4.1%
  • Revenue associated with visits from other long-haul destinations grew by 8.8%

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. 

Commenting on the figures, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland said: “Despite strong growth in visitor numbers from North America (+13%) and from long-haul markets including Australia (+16%), a decline of -7% in British visitors has led to an overall drop of -1% in overseas visitors to Ireland in the first quarter of 2017. As anticipated, the challenge of Brexit for Irish tourism is very real and we’re beginning to see the impact of currency changes in today’s CSO results – which confirm a decline of -1% in revenue from overseas visitors to Ireland in the first three months of 2017, including a decline of almost -8% in revenue from British visitors. Holidaymakers are up from North America (+16%), Mainland Europe (+6%) and from long-haul markets (+37%) but down from Britain (-15%).

“It’s more competitive than ever before in the international marketplace. The movement of sterling versus the euro and dollar, since the UK referendum on Brexit, makes Great Britain a more competitive destination for visitors from Mainland Europe and the United States. We have observed our competitors – VisitBritain, VisitScotland and VisitWales – intensifying their operations across all of Ireland’s major tourism markets to capitalise on this. Therefore, competitiveness and our value for money message are more important than ever right now. Tomorrow (Thursday, 15 June), I will lead a delegation of senior Irish tourism industry representatives to London for a roundtable meeting 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 head into the high season, Tourism Ireland has a really comprehensive promotional programme under way around the world, 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 with major air and sea carriers. Our message is that there has never been a better time to visit the island of Ireland.”

Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, Paul Kelly, commented: “It’s important to note that, in comparing the results for the first quarter of 2017, Easter occurred in March in 2016 and that may account for some of the softening in comparable revenue figures. However, the trend from Britain is undeniable and was also reflected in Fáilte Ireland’s most recent Tourism Barometer.

“In this post-Brexit environment, the tourism sector needs to maintain its competitive edge particularly in terms of a weakening sterling which not only makes Ireland more expensive for British visitors but makes Britain a more competitive destination for those other overseas visitors we are seeking to bring here.

“Market diversification will also be important and tourism businesses will need to look to other international markets to offset any weakening in British markets. To that end, Fáilte Ireland will be working with tourism businesses throughout the country to help them recalibrate and diversify to tap growth in other markets in order to offset any Brexit-related repercussions.”

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

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