Overseas Visitor Numbers Continue to Grow

Thursday 25 October 2018

The Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross TD and the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD today welcomed the latest official data on overseas travel from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which showed an increase of 7.1% in overseas visits to Ireland for the first nine months of 2018 as compared to the same period in 2017.  

Commenting on the figures, Minister Ross stated: “I am delighted to welcome the CSO data released today which shows growth in overseas visits of 7.1% for the first nine months of the year when compared to the same period in 2017. The significant additional funding for tourism I secured in Budget 2019 will, I believe, provide strong return on investment through employment and revenue generated by both overseas and domestic visitors as we seek to continue to grow in a sustainable manner in the coming years.

This additional funding will play a key role in allowing the tourism agencies to effectively market Ireland overseas and provide a top class destination for visitors when they arrive. It will enable the tourism agencies to take further action to help counteract any negative impacts from Brexit. Fáilte Ireland will receive more resources to help ensure that the visitor experience here continues to be world class. In addition, Tourism Ireland will be in a position to further progress market diversification in overseas marketing.

While the tourism sector is doing very well, we cannot become complacent. We have an opportunity now to build on the success of recent years in a way which will ensure that tourism remains a vital indigenous economic sector in Ireland.”

The latest CSO figures on Overseas Travel show:

  • At over 8.203 million visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 7.1% in the first nine months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
  • Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 10% for January to September 2018 (2.976 million visits);
  • North America registered an increase of 12.9% for January – September 2018 (1.868 million visits);
  • Visits from Great Britain increased by 1.1% for January – September 2018 (2.842 million visits).
  • Visits from the rest of the world, mostly long-haul and developing markets, were up by 5.3% totalling 516,900 visits.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin TD added: “These overseas visitor numbers from the CSO are further evidence that the sector is thriving. Tourism is a vital industry in Ireland and it is crucial that it continues to grow in a sustainable way. The Government is committed to playing its part to assist the sector, which was reflected in the increase of funding secured for tourism in Budget 2019.

I am confident that the additional funding for the agencies, as well as for the development of Greenways, will help the sector not just to grow, but to expand further into the regions and also to attract more visitors outside of peak times. These are two of the key challenges we face as we seek to build further on our success. One initiative which can help is the ‘Call of the Wild’, which I launched together with Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland last week. This aims to give local people on the Wild Atlantic Way the opportunity to have their hidden gems included in a global social media campaign, while at the same time highlight to their own social network the beauty of the locality as a holiday destination. I would urge anyone interested in tourism to check it out.”

Commenting on figures published today by the CSO for overseas arrivals for January to September 2018, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures from the CSO confirm that overseas visitor numbers increased by +7.1% during the January-September period – 542,300 additional overseas arrivals when compared with the first nine months of 2017.  

“Particularly welcome in today’s figures is the continued strong performance from North America, with an increase of +12.9%. A number of factors are working in our favour, including more airline seats than ever before, from more gateways across the US and Canada. We’ve also seen excellent results from Mainland Europe, up +10% on January-September last year, with particularly strong performances from Germany (+20.9%) and Italy (+11.8%). Tourism Ireland has prioritised North America and Mainland Europe, 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 +1.1%, it is not yet clear if this represents a turnaround in the long-term trend. The impact of Brexit on outbound travel from Britain remains a concern.

Our autumn campaigns are under way in markets across the world, to ensure that tourism growth continues. Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue in 2018 to €6 billion, for the island of Ireland.”

Responding to today’s CSO figures, Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly said: “Today’s figures reflect what has been a record year for tourism, with visitor numbers at their highest yet and impressive growth in some of our core markets. The key now is being able to sustain and continue these levels of growth. At Fáilte Ireland, a core focus of our work in this respect has been on spreading visitors across the country, and stimulating growth in those regions which have the potential to cater for more visitors, particularly during off-season months. Central to this will be both public and private sector organisations throughout the country investing in the growth of tourism capacity in accommodation, attractions and transport. For our own part, Fáilte Ireland is investing significantly in attractions, activities and festivals to ensure a good regional spread of tourism activity and a broader tourism calendar in order to cater for increased visitor numbers.

While we are confident about the growth prospects that lie ahead for the coming year, it is important to strike a note of caution as this growth cannot be taken for granted, and will not be easily won, particularly with Brexit on the horizon. Through our own programme of activity, and as part of the Government’s Getting Ireland Brexit Ready workshops, we have been helping the industry to prepare for Brexit as best they can, by effectively diversifying into other markets. There are also many opportunities over the coming year, including new access routes, and Fáilte Ireland will support the industry to keep the current growth momentum going by making sure Ireland remains a high quality destination, which provides good value for our visitors.”

Ends
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Initial Publication Date: 
25/10/2018