Overseas visitor numbers continue to grow
The Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross T.D. and the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin T.D. today welcomed the latest official data on overseas travel from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which showed an increase of 2.9% in overseas visits to Ireland for the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period of 2016.
Commenting on the figures, Minister Ross stated: “CSO data released today shows a year on year increase of 2.9% in the number of visits to Ireland in the first nine months of 2017. The continued growth is encouraging given that 2016 saw a record number of overseas visits to Ireland and also taking into account recent global developments. Our strong performance underlines the importance of market diversification which has counteracted the fall in visit numbers from our largest inbound market, Great Britain. The additional €2 million I secured in Budget 2018 for investment in digital infrastructure will underpin Tourism Ireland’s efforts to reach more people through their online marketing campaigns. In addition, the retention of the 9% VAT rate will help the sector to remain competitive. However, as I made clear at the time of the Budget, industry must play its part too and remain competitive while being scrupulously fair to the consumer.”
The latest CSO figures on Overseas Travel show:
· At 7,661,200 visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 2.9% in the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.
· Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 3.5% for January to September 2017 (2,704,800 visits);
· North America registered an increase of 18.6% for January – September 2017 (1,654,900 visits);
· Visits from Great Britain decreased by -6.7% for January – September 2017 (2,810,500 visits).
· Visits from the rest of the world, mostly long-haul and developing markets, were up by 16.2% totalling 491,000 visits.
Minister Griffin added: “I am very pleased to see the increase of 2.9% in the number of visits to Ireland in the first nine months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. In Budget 2018, we allocated increased capital investment for tourism product development initiatives over the coming years. This will help to further develop our tourism brand experiences and visitor attractions and will serve to attract greater numbers of overseas visitors to all parts of the country. As my colleague Minister Ross has pointed out, competitiveness remains key to the continued growth of the sector and this was made clear to me in recent discussions I had with the travel trade at meetings in London.”
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures confirm that we welcomed 7,661,200 overseas visitors during the period January to September this year. This represents growth of almost +3% – or 216,000 additional visitors – on the same nine-month period last year, coming on the back of a record performance in 2016 and years of solid growth in overseas tourism. The decline in visitor numbers from Britain continues to be a real concern, down -6.7% for the January to September period. The fall in the value of sterling has made holidays and short breaks here more expensive for British visitors and has made Britain more affordable for visitors from many of our top markets. This year, Tourism Ireland has placed a greater focus on our ‘culturally curious’ audience, who are less impacted by currency fluctuations. However, competitiveness and the value for money message are more important than ever in Britain right now.
“However, North America and our long-haul markets continue to perform very well. Arrivals from the US and Canada are up +18.6% for January to September; and visitors from Australia and Developing Markets grew by +16.2% in the same period. Arrivals from Mainland Europe also grew by +3.5%. Increases in direct air access, plus our market diversification strategy, have been key factors. Tourism Ireland’s extensive autumn campaign is in full swing, to promote late season holidays and boost travel into the early part of 2018. Upcoming promotions – including a significant presence at World Travel Market in London, with about 70 Irish tourism partners, and our ‘Jump into Ireland’ travel trade and media blitz to the United States next month – will help position us well for 2018.”
Commenting on today’s CSO data, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly said: “Today’s CSO figures provide us with more insights as to how tourism is faring this year. With September’s data included, we see that overall growth is up with the performance of North American and other long haul markets proving particularly impressive.
“Europe is holding steady but, from today’s data, we can observe double digit growth from Spain and the Nordic countries – underlining the growth potential out there for tourism businesses from markets beyond the traditional ‘old reliables’ of Britain, Germany, France and North America.
“The decline in British numbers remains significant and this impact is felt most in those parts of Ireland heavily reliant on British and Northern Irish visitors.
“The growth in long haul destinations and in non-traditional markets closer to home – like Spain and the Scandinavian countries – underpins the need for Irish tourism businesses to have the capability to secure and service visitors from those destinations. As we roll out our new Get Brexit Ready programme around the country, we are particularly stressing the need for market diversification overseas in those parts where the greatest growth potential exists as well as specific strategies for retaining British business. We would urge tourism businesses to engage with the programme and they can find out more at getbrexitready.ie ”