Overseas Visitor Numbers Continue to Grow

Wednesday 27 June 2018

CSO data released today shows that the number of overseas visits to Ireland in the first five months of 2018 increased by 7.6% compared to the corresponding period in 2017.

Shane Ross T.D., Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport commented on the release: “Data released by the CSO today indicates that the number of overseas visits to Ireland increased by 7.6% in the first five months of 2018. It is encouraging that all of our main markets have grown so far in 2018. North America and Mainland Europe have seen remarkable growth, increasing by 12.4% and 12.3% respectively compared to 2017.

Earlier this week, along with Minister of State Griffin, I launched “Linking People and Places”, my department’s sectoral plan for Project Ireland 2040. This project commits to capital investment of €108m in tourism alone by 2021. It is essential for Brand Ireland that we continue to offer the best quality and experience for visitors when they come to Ireland. This investment in tourism infrastructure will assist the tourism industry in providing a world class experience for visitors. Additional investment in transport infrastructure is also critical for the tourism sector. With 80% of air access to the island currently through Dublin Airport, it is essential that we have strong transport links to disperse visitors throughout the country whilst at the same time seeking to increase the number of visitors accessing the regions directly.”

Comparing the period to the end of May with the same period in 2017:

  • Overall trips to Ireland were up by 7.6% to 3.846 million visits;
  • North America was up by 12.4% to 744,900;
  • Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 12.3% to 1.417 million;
  • Great Britain registered an increase of 2.4% with 1.471 million.
  • Visits from the rest of the world increased by 0.5%, to 213,900;

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin T.D. added: “I am delighted to welcome today’s CSO data, which highlights continued growth to Ireland into May 2018. While the figures from Europe and North America are particularly impressive, I am also very pleased to see growth from Great Britain of 2.4% compared to 2017. We have managed to reverse the decline in visitors from that market. Events such as the recent royal visit, during which I was honoured to welcome the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to Kerry, are a great boost in that regard. Nevertheless, I am very much aware that challenges lie ahead regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

Market diversification is a major factor contributing to our outstanding performance in recent times as it targets markets proven to stay longer and, therefore, spend more. It also helps to increase the resilience and economic sustainability of the industry by reducing reliance on any single market. I am confident that with the launch of the Global Ireland strategy by the Taoiseach earlier this month, we can look forward to continuing to grow tourism from a wide variety of markets.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures from the CSO confirm that overseas visitor numbers increased by +7.6% during the January-May period, 273,300 additional overseas arrivals when compared with the first five months of 2017. North America continues to perform extremely well – with arrivals up +12.4%, around 82,000 additional US and Canadian visitors. We’ve also seen excellent results from Mainland Europe, up +12.3% on January-May last year, with particularly strong performances from Germany (+25.6%) and Italy (+16%). 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 (+2.4%), it’s too early to say if this represents 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 rest of the year, 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 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 last month, as well as the Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing and the Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong, which both kicked off earlier this month. We are determined to ensure that tourism growth continues. Tourism Ireland’s campaigns are now in full swing around the world. Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue in 2018 to €6 billion, for the island of Ireland.”

Responding to today’s CSO figures, Paul Kelly CEO of Fáilte Ireland stated: “Overall, today’s results reflect further significant  tourism growth from overseas. Additionally, anecdotal evidence from the industry is telling us that the current good spell of weather is also generating a domestic dividend with increased home holiday activity. All of this is great news in a sector that sustains 235,000 jobs and generates €1.7bn in exchequer funding - €1,000 for every household in Ireland.

“The key focus for Irish tourism must now be to sustain this performance. The potential for further growth – and significant increases in jobs and exchequer revenue - is very much within our grasp, particularly with the increase in air access from North America, Europe and China. The main barrier for us in realising this potential will be our capacity to provide these visitors with outstanding holiday experiences and maintain a strong value for money reputation. Therefore it is incumbent on both public and private sector organisations throughout the country to invest and facilitate the growth of tourism capacity in accommodation, attractions and transport. For our own part, Fáilte Ireland is investing in attractions, activities and festivals across the country to ensure a good regional spread of tourism activity and a broader tourism calendar in order to cater for growing visitor numbers.”

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

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