Steady Increase in Overseas Visitor Numbers

Wednesday 29 August 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 7.8% in overseas visits to Ireland for the first seven months of 2018 as compared to the same period in 2017. 

Commenting on the figures, Minister Ross stated: “the data released from the CSO today is very welcome and clearly shows a steady rise in the performance of overseas visits as compared to the same period last year. There have been over 6 million visits to Ireland in the first seven months of 2018, representing a 7.8% increase on 2017.

At the recent Tourism Ireland Mid-Year Review of Overseas Tourism, I saw how the continued growth this year has come from all of our main market areas around the world, and North America and Europe in particular. Sustaining and growing performance from our main markets together with developing growth from emerging markets is vital as we continue to build resilience into the sector through diversification. The challenges we face, including Brexit, rising oil prices and other international economic uncertainties, underline the importance of this approach.” 

The latest CSO figures on Overseas Travel show:

  • At 6.033 million visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 7.8% in the first seven months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
  • Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 10.6% for January to July 2018 (2.205 million visits);
  • North America registered an increase of 13.5% for January – July 2018 (1.320 million visits);
  • Visits from Great Britain increased by 2.5% for January – July 2018 (2.139 million visits).
  • Visits from the rest of the world, mostly long-haul and developing markets, were up by 4.1% totalling 368,100 visits.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin TD added: “The figures published today confirm that 2018 is on target to be another year of growth for Irish tourism. With 240,000 jobs now dependent on tourism, I am very conscious of ensuring that we sustain our success into the future.

Fáilte Ireland’s recently published report outlining hotel developments in Dublin estimates that over 5,000 new hotel rooms will come on stream by the end of 2020, along with almost 1,700 serviced accommodation rooms. These are welcome figures in view of demand pressures in the capital and they illustrate just how well tourism in Dublin is doing if it can attract this level of investment. However, the demand in Dublin also serves to highlight the importance in ensuring that we continue to ‘spread the load’ by extending the regional and seasonal spread of tourists. This is something at which the agencies have been successful in recent years, not least through the promotion of the experience brands outside of Dublin, the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East and, now, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures from the CSO confirm that overseas visitor numbers increased by almost +8% during the January-July period, 436,000 additional overseas arrivals when compared with the first seven months of 2017. This was the best ever month of July for Irish tourism, with more than 1.16 million arrivals. Particularly welcome in today’s figures is the continued strong performance from North America, with an increase of +13.5%. 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 +10.6% on January-July last year, with particularly strong performances from Germany (+20%) and Italy (+15.5%). 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 +2.5%, 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.

We are determined to ensure that tourism growth continues. Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue in 2018 to €6 billion, for the island of Ireland.”

Welcoming today’s figures, Fáilte Ireland’s Chief Executive Paul Kelly said: “This continued excellent growth in visitor numbers shows how the combined actions of current Government policy -  including a competitive VAT rate and zero airport tax - along with Fáilte Ireland’s regional brands like the Wild Atlantic Way and strong international marketing by Tourism Ireland, are all working exceptionally well in terms of supporting robust growth for tourism.

“In order to sustain this growth in the face of the significant risks that Brexit brings, we need to maintain this strategy and reinvest some of the extra €100m that tourism will contribute to tax revenue this year alone - on top of the €1.7bn it contributed last year. This funding will allow us to further develop our tourism offering and spread the benefits across all regions.

“Today’s figures also show continued success in the way that tourism businesses are diversifying into other key markets, which is very good news in terms of managing risk but it does mean we need both public and private sector investment in building our language and cultural capabilities in order to provide the big ‘Céad Míle Fáilte’ to these diverse visitors.”

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