Continued Growth in Overseas Visits to Ireland – Q1 2018

Thursday 26 April 2018

CSO data released today (26th April) shows that the number of overseas visits to Ireland for the 1st quarter of 2018 was over 1.92 million, which was an increase of 6.9% compared to the same quarter in 2017.

Shane Ross T.D., Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport commented on the data: “CSO figures for overseas visits released today show that there were 1,920,700 visits to Ireland in the first quarter of 2018, representing an increase of 6.9% on 2017. Despite severe weather conditions which affected arrivals in early March, visits to Ireland continued to grow in the first quarter of 2018 and have surpassed the exceptional performance in 2017. The performance of European markets, such as Germany and Italy, and North American markets in the early part of this year is very encouraging. At yesterday’s meeting of the Tourism Leadership Group, Minister Griffin and I discussed the future direction of tourism policy with industry representatives in the context of developing the Tourism Action Plan 2018-2020. A central theme of the Plan will be the need to deliver growth which is sustainable, from an economic, social and environmental perspective.”

Comparing the three-month period Jan ‘18 – Mar ‘18 with the period Jan ’17 – Mar’17:

  • Overall visits to Ireland were up by 6.9% to 1.92 million visits;
  • North America was up by 13% to 331,600;
  • Great Britain was up by 0.3% to 798,300;
  • Visits from Mainland Europe increased by 13.8% to 678,300;
  • Visits from the rest of the world increased by 1.5% to 112,500.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin T.D. added: “I am delighted to welcome today’s CSO release which illustrated that overseas visits are up 6.9% for Q1 2018 compared to Q1 2017. Last week I had the chance to attend one of Ireland’s most important travel trade events, Meitheal. This event was attended by businesses from all across Ireland as well as tour operators from 23 countries. I was very impressed with the event and the work that Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland are doing, in collaboration with the industry, in attracting key overseas buyers, allowing them a first-hand experience of what their clients can expect to see and do while in Ireland. With over 300 overseas operators in attendance, it was a reminder that remaining competitive will be fundamental to our continued success. It is vital that we do not become complacent about growth in tourism.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures from the CSO confirm that overseas visitor numbers increased by almost +7% in the first quarter of 2018, around 124,500 additional overseas arrivals when compared with January-March 2017. We’ve seen really good results from Mainland Europe, up almost +14% on January-March last year, with particularly strong performances from Germany (+30.6%), Italy (+18.3%) and Spain (+5.4%). North America also continues to perform well – with arrivals up over +13% for the first three months of the year, an extra 38,300 US and Canadian visitors. Tourism Ireland has prioritised Mainland Europe and North America, as markets which offers 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, 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 particularly look forward to seeing the impact of new long-haul flights on Irish tourism this summer – including the Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing and the Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong, both due to begin in June. In terms of ferry services, there will be an increase in the number of sailings and capacity between Mainland Europe and Ireland this year. Tourism Ireland’s campaigns are now in full swing around the world. Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue in 2018 by +5%, to €6 billion, for the island of Ireland.”

Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said: "Although it is early in the year yet to determine the overall outlook for 2018, it is encouraging to see a robust set of figures for the first quarter of the year and if that trend continues upwards, we will enjoy another record year for overseas visits.”

“Last year's tourism activity sustained 235,000 jobs and generated revenue of €6.7bn with an estimated €1.6bn going to the Exchequer. Sustained tourism growth is good for jobs, good for local communities and good for the economy. The key to sustaining this success, particularly at these record levels, is to ensure that future growth reaches all regions and that we spread activity across a longer tourism season. This can achieved by building on our compelling family of tourism brands - Ireland's Hidden Heartlands being the newest addition - and ensuring that there are top-class experiences throughout the country and throughout the year to entice visitors."

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

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