Strong Growth in Revenue from Overseas Visitors

Wednesday 05 September 2018

CSO Tourism and Travel statistics for Q2 2018 published today show that spending in Ireland by overseas visitors (excluding carrier fares) was €2,270 million for the first six months of 2018, up 8.5% on the same period in 2017. When carrier fares are included, expenditure was up by 8.1% to €3,049 million.

In terms of expenditure (excluding carrier fares) associated with overseas visits from Ireland’s main markets in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017:

  • Revenue associated with visits from Mainland Europe grew by 12.2%
  • Revenue associated with visits from North America grew by 9.4%
  • Revenue associated with visits from Great Britain grew by 0.6%
  • Revenue associated with visits from other long-haul destinations grew by 8.6%

Commenting on the figures, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD stated: “The first half of 2018 saw a significant increase in revenue associated with overseas visits to Ireland when compared to 2017. I am very encouraged by this continued growth with an 8.5% increase to €2.270 billion in the period between January and June. The very positive returns from areas such as Mainland Europe and North America show the importance the tourism agencies place on these high-value markets. In addition, Tourism Ireland led its largest ever sales mission to China this year as it continues to implement a market diversification strategy which, as the data released today indicates, has been very successful.

Although the performance from most markets is encouraging, we need to be keenly aware of the economic uncertainty we face internationally with the real possibility of knock-on effects for tourism from issues such as Brexit and possible trade disputes. With this in mind it is important that the industry is open to new and developing markets to ensure we can survive any adverse economic developments in some of our major markets.”   

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD, also welcomed the figures and added: “Fáilte Ireland estimates that there are now 240,000 people in Ireland working in the tourism and hospitality industry. Revenue from overseas visitors is fundamental for those reliant on the sector and I am delighted to welcome strong growth of 8.5% in the first half of the year. It is, as always, important to attract visitors from diverse markets, and it is encouraging to see strong growth in revenue from North America and Mainland Europe.

Ensuring that travellers receive a high quality experience is essential for tourism to remain sustainable. The efforts of the sector have been recognised by travellers with Ireland recently being ranked the fourth best destination in the world for ‘travel experiences’ by TripAdvisor. This sort of recognition helps to reinforce the message from our tourism agencies that there is a great variety of activities and experiences on offer for tourists in all parts of Ireland throughout the year.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s CSO figures are very strong, confirming that revenue from overseas visitors to Ireland grew by almost +9% in the first half of 2018, an additional €180 million for the Irish economy compared with the first six months in 2017. Total overseas visitors grew by +6.6%. Holiday visitor numbers grew by +11%; and revenue from holidaymakers grew by +12%. Particularly welcome is the continued strong performance from North America, with an increase of +11.4% in visitors and almost +10% in revenue; and from Mainland Europe, with growth of almost +10% in visitors and over +12% in revenue. This means that spending by visitors from North America and Mainland Europe to Ireland has outpaced British visitor spend in the first half of the year. Tourism Ireland’s market diversification strategy has prioritised North America and Mainland Europe as markets which offer a strong return on investment.

I welcome the recovery from Britain, with visitor numbers up +2% and revenue up almost +1%. Next month, I will also lead another delegation of Irish tourism industry leaders to London for roundtable meetings with key players in the British travel trade. We will discuss how Tourism Ireland and the tourism industry can best respond to the challenges posed by Brexit as we plan for 2019 and beyond. Maintaining our competitiveness is critical, to continue to grow tourism from overseas. Next week, we will announce Tourism Ireland’s extensive autumn campaign, to promote late season holidays and boost travel into the early part of 2019. On the back of an increasingly strong access picture, we are rolling out a really comprehensive promotional programme around the world. We are working in close co-operation with industry partners across the island of Ireland, as well as with a wide range of international tour operators and with major air and sea carriers.”

Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, Paul Kelly, commented: “Today’s set of  revenue figures for the first half of the year are very encouraging. Not only is the revenue from overseas tourism up by 8.5% but when you look into the detail, the revenue from holidaymakers in particular is up by 11% which is a great reflection of Ireland’s continuing attractiveness as a destination. This performance is no accident. Through a mixture of a robust set of policies from Government – including a competitive VAT rate and zero airport tax - strong international marketing by Tourism Ireland, as well as Fáilte Ireland’s ongoing work to support the industry and build strong regional experience brands, we are seeing continued growth that not only generates €1.7 billion in Exchequer revenue, but sustains communities across the country. Indeed, on the trends in today’s data, there is a strong indication that overseas tourism’s contribution to the tax take will increase by €100m this year.

“The key focus now is to ensure that we can continue to build on this growth and overcome any challenges the industry may face in the near future – particularly with Brexit on the horizon. This strong growth simply will not continue if we don’t plan ahead and diversify into other markets to offset the potential impact of losing visitors from our nearest overseas market. At Fáilte Ireland, we will continue to work with Government, public sector bodies, private businesses and local communities to build new products that will meet the needs of visitors from diverse markets.”

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