Overseas visitor numbers continue to rise

Tuesday 28 November 2017

The Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross T.D. and the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin T.D. today (28th November) welcomed the latest official data on overseas travel from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which showed an increase of 3.1% in overseas visits to Ireland for the first ten months of 2017 compared to the same period of 2016. 

Commenting on the figures, Minister Ross stated: “Today’s CSO release confirms continued growth in visitor numbers for the first 10 months of 2017. We have seen consistent increases in terms of overall visitor numbers to Ireland since 2011 and it looks as though this upward trend will continue for 2017 despite the disappointing, if not surprising, fall in visitor numbers from Great Britain. It is expected that tourism will contribute in the region of €4.9 billion to the economy this year helping to sustain 225,000 jobs in communities across the country. Next week, I will attend the launch of Tourism Ireland’s 2018 Marketing Plans which will aim to mitigate the impact of Brexit and continue to grow tourism from overseas.”

The latest CSO figures on Overseas Travel show:

  • At 8,531,500 visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 3.1% in the first ten months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.
  • Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 4.4% for January to October 2017 (3,016,700 visits);
  • North America registered an increase of 16.4% for January – October 2017 (1,845,200 visits);
  • Visits from Great Britain decreased by -6.1% for January – October 2017 (3,132,900 visits).
  • Visits from the rest of the world, mostly long-haul and developing markets, were up by 14.7% totalling 536,600 visits.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin TD added: “It is very encouraging that visit numbers for the first 10 months of 2017 are up 3.1%, when compared to the same period in 2016. Global developments have presented us with challenges this year and it is a good time to remind ourselves of the importance of remaining competitive in a crowded marketplace. The Government’s decision to retain the lower 9% VAT rate and the air travel tax at zero in Budget 2018 is evidence of how important we view this issue for the industry.”      

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures confirm that we welcomed 8,531,500 overseas visitors during the period January to October this year. This represents growth of +3.1% – or over a quarter of a million additional visitors – on the same ten-month period last year, coming on the back of a record performance in 2016 and years of solid growth in overseas tourism. We have seen exceptional results from North America this year – up +16.4% on January to October last year. I also welcome the growth in visitor numbers from Australia and developing markets (+14.7%) and from Mainland Europe (+4.4%). Increases in direct air access, plus our market diversification strategy, have been key factors. The decline in visitor numbers from Britain continues to be a concern, down -6.1% for the January to October 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. Tourism Ireland will continue to place a greater focus on our ‘culturally curious’ audience, who are less impacted by currency fluctuations. However, competitiveness and the value for money message remain more important than ever in Britain right now.”

“Tourism Ireland has a number of late-season campaigns under way right now, to kick-start our promotional effort for 2018. Next week, we will outline our plans for 2018, when we will be pulling out all the stops to ensure that the island of Ireland continues to increase its share of the global travel business.”

Commenting on today’s CSO data, Fáilte Ireland Director of Business Development, Paul Keeley said: “Today’s CSO data reinforces the trend we’ve seen all year - overall growth is up with the performance of North American and other long  haul markets proving particularly spectacular.”

“The drop in British numbers remains the starkest feature of tourism performance in 2018. We estimate that, by the end of this year, Brexit will have deprived us of 297,000 visitors - representing €86m in revenue and an estimated 2,400 tourism jobs. This loss is thankfully a hypothetical one for many businesses thanks to strong performances in American and other markets. However, for those parts of Ireland heavily reliant on British and Northern Irish visitors, Brexit is a real factor.”

“The growth in long haul destinations and in non-traditional markets closer to home 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 www.getbrexitready.ie.

Press Office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, 01 604 1090 / 01 604 1093 www.dttas.ie pressoffice@dttas.ie

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