Tuesday 29 May 2018
CSO data released today shows that the number of overseas visits to Ireland for the first four months of 2018 was over 2.8 million, which was an increase of 7.3% compared to the same period in 2017.
Shane Ross T.D., Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport commented on the data: “Figures released by the CSO today confirm sustained growth in overseas visit numbers for the first 4 months of 2018. The continued growth in visitor numbers reflects the on-going efforts of the tourism agencies, in collaboration with the tourism sector, to market Ireland at a range of markets with the highest revenue growth potential.
Most recently, Tourism Ireland led a sales mission to China accompanied by 29 tour operators from the island of Ireland. China has huge potential as an emerging travel market for Ireland and one that Tourism Ireland is committed to growing over the coming years. Ireland’s appeal will also be strengthened by the first direct flights to Ireland from Beijing and Hong Kong commencing in June.
I am also encouraged by the continued strong performance from the North American market. The number of visitors from North America to April 2018 has grown 13.6% compared to the corresponding period in 2017. The new direct route from Seattle which started this month will help to develop the US market even further.”
Comparing the period Jan ‘18 – April ‘18 with the period Jan ’17 – April’17:
- Overall visits to Ireland were up by 7.3% to 2.82 million visits;
- North America was up by 13.6% to 510,200;
- Great Britain was up by 1.1% to 1,121,000;
- Visits from Mainland Europe increased by 12.3% to 1,031,200;
- Visits from the rest of the world increased by 2.9% to 158,100.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin T.D. added: “I am delighted to welcome the CSO figures released today which show that visit numbers are up 7.3% on the same period in 2017. It is particularly reassuring to see that visit numbers from Great Britain are beginning to stabilise and are no longer in decline.
I was pleased to hear that The Ryan Tubridy Show has collaborated with Fáilte Ireland again this year as part of its ‘Embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of Life’ summer marketing campaign. By interviewing local tourism businesses, discussing local activities and experiences available, trying water based activities and visiting well known attractions in each area, the show really gets across to listeners what the Wild Atlantic Way is all about.”
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures from the CSO confirm that overseas visitor numbers increased by +7.3% during the January-April period, around 191,100 additional overseas arrivals when compared with the first four months of 2017. North America continues to perform extremely well – with arrivals up +13.6%, an extra 61,100 US and Canadian visitors. We’ve also seen excellent results from Mainland Europe, up over +12% on January-April last year, with particularly strong performances from Germany (+24.3%) and Italy (+21.9%). Tourism Ireland has prioritised Mainland Europe and North America, as markets which offer a strong return on investment, in terms of holiday visitors and expenditure.
While we welcome the fact that arrivals from Britain are up very slightly (+1.1%), this doesn’t represent a turnaround in the long-term trend. The impact of Brexit on outbound travel from Britain, therefore, remains a concern. 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. Competitiveness and value for money remain more important than ever in Britain this year.
Looking to the upcoming summer season, the air and sea access picture is very positive – with increases in the number of airline seats from Britain, Mainland Europe, North American and long-haul markets. We’re already seeing the impact of increased Ryanair services from Germany. We particularly look forward to seeing the impact of new long-haul flights on Irish tourism this summer – including the new Aer Lingus service from Seattle to Dublin, which began earlier this month, as well as the Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing and the Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong, both due to begin in the coming weeks. In terms of ferry services, there will be an increase in the number of sailings and capacity between Mainland Europe and Ireland this year.”
Responding to the publication of today’s figures, Paul Kelly CEO of Fáilte Ireland emphasised: “We are delighted to see the hard work of everyone involved in tourism being rewarded with such positive growth in tourist numbers - this growth will further increase the already significant contribution tourism makes to the overall economy of Ireland. The challenge for us all now is to manage and maintain this growth, and key to this will be to ensure that we continue to give our visitors a top quality and excellent value for money experience. In order to do this, we will need increased investment from both the private and public sector in all areas - from accommodation to visitor attractions and infrastructure - to build our capacity to host these visitors in a way that gives them a top-class experience, making them more likely to visit again and recommend Ireland to their family and friends.
Our Fáilte Ireland research is picking up a softening in our value for money ratings. If that trend should continue, we will become considered as an expensive destination. Should that happen, all the good work of recent years will be undone and it could take us years to reverse that perception. These growth levels in visitor numbers also gives us a real opportunity to develop a better regional and spatial spread of activity to minimise congestion, and we in Fáilte will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure the benefits of this growth are spread throughout the country.”