Sustained Growth in Revenue from Overseas Tourism

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Data published by the CSO today confirms that revenue associated with overseas visitors continued to grow in the first nine months of the year. The detailed figures from the CSO show that spending in Ireland by overseas visitors (excluding fares) for the first nine months of the year rose by 7.2% compared with the corresponding period of 2017. The data also shows that revenue from the key target market of holidaymakers rose by 12.2% over the same period. The figures are published in the CSO’s Tourism and Travel Q3 release. The figures are based on detailed surveys of overseas visitors and the release also contains detailed information on expenditure, purpose of visit, and bednights. 

The figures confirm that Mainland Europe and North America were the main drivers of this growth in tourism revenue. Long-haul markets also delivered increased revenue whilst Britain was marginally down. In terms of the expenditure associated with overseas visits, figures for the first nine months of 2018, compared to 2017, show that:

  •          Overall, revenue was up by 7.2%
  •          North America increased by 13.2%
  •          Mainland Europe increased by 7.5%
  •          Great Britain decreased by 1%
  •          Other (long-haul) markets increased by 3.1%

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Ross T.D. said:  “Looking back on 2018, the figures released by the CSO today affirm what we already knew – that tourism has had another very good year. The revenue generated by visitors from North America and Mainland Europe, in particular, ensured we saw a significant increase of 7.2% compared to the same period in 2017.

Our goal now is to ensure that we continue to grow in a sustainable way. Looking into 2019, in terms of our tourism offering, Fáilte Ireland will continue to focus on areas with very strong potential for future development and expansion, including attractions, activities, festivals and business tourism.

In terms of international marketing, the increased allocation in Budget 2019 will allow the necessary investment by Tourism Ireland to roll out its new global campaign “Fill Your Heart With Ireland”. In addition, new market strategies for growth will be implemented in a number of key overseas markets.

Both agencies will be working towards building further on the strong performance of recent years, particularly in the regions and in off-peak periods, to maintain tourism’s place as a vital indigenous economic sector.”

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin T.D. added "The importance of the increase in tourism revenue cannot be understated. The revenue generated by tourism reaches all parts of the country, bringing much needed jobs and income to areas with otherwise limited economic activity.

My focus going forward will be to further build on the success that the regions have experienced through initiatives such as the “Wonders of the Wild Atlantic Way” and “The Call of the Wild”. Additional funding allocated in Budget 2019 will allow for further development of the Regional Cooperative Marketing Scheme, which promotes direct access to regional airports for overseas visitors to Ireland.

I remain conscious of the uncertainty around the British market. Nevertheless, following Budget 2019, I am confident that the agencies will be well resourced to meet the challenges this will bring in the New 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 more than +7% during January-September 2018, compared with the first nine months in 2017. Total overseas arrivals grew by almost +7%. Within the total number of overseas visitors to Ireland, holiday visitors grew by +11% – that’s around 400,000 additional holiday visitors. Particularly welcome is the continued strong performance from North America and from Mainland Europe, with spending by visitors from North America and Mainland Europe to Ireland significantly outpacing British visitor spend in the first nine months 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.

“We welcome the fact that visitor numbers from Britain have increased slightly (+1%), at the same time noting the decline in spend by British visitors (-1%). The continued uncertainty around Brexit, and its impact on outbound travel from Britain, remains a real concern. We will continue to work closely with our tourism industry partners here in Ireland and in Britain – to 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. We’ve just launched our marketing plans for 2019, which will see us build on this year’s growth to deliver €6.5 billion (+6%) in overseas tourism revenue to the island of Ireland, by welcoming 11.67 million visitors.”

Responding to today’s figures, Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly said: “We know that 2018 has been a record year for tourism and this is very much reflected in today’s figures. Growth of this level does not happen by accident – central to Ireland’s tourism success story has been long-term planning, strong product development and the work of a dynamic industry, which has shown great agility in adapting to ever-changing consumer preferences as well as growth from new and emerging markets. This forward-looking approach will be critical in 2019 and beyond, particularly with Brexit on the horizon and the economic uncertainty around the UK market. In order for Ireland to continue on this upward trajectory, and for tourism to sustain the major economic and social contributions the sector has made across the country, the industry will need to plan ahead and diversify into other markets to offset the potential impact of losing visitors from our nearest overseas market.

“Fáilte Ireland has been working closely with the wider tourism industry to ensure that this remains their focus, and continues to provide a comprehensive range of supports that will support them to effectively target tourists from new markets and create a full tourism offering that meets their needs. As we look to 2019, we will continue to work with Government, public sector bodies, private businesses and local communities to target new markets and build strong tourism product on the ground.”

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