Ministers welcome good start to the year for tourism

Tuesday 26 March 2019

CSO data published today shows that the number of overseas visits to Ireland for the first two months of 2019 increased by 7% compared to the corresponding period in 2018.

Commenting on the CSO data, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross T.D. stated: “I welcome CSO data released today which indicates growth in overseas visit numbers for the first two months of 2019. While the year has just begun, the continued growth into 2019 is an encouraging start for the year ahead. As we know, there is a direct correlation between visit number growth and revenue growth, so I am hopeful that the increase in visits will be reflected in the revenue generated.

The recently published Tourism Action Plan 2019-2021 comes at a time when tourism is performing very strongly providing vital jobs and revenue across the country. The Plan places a strong emphasis on ensuring that we grow in a sustainable manner, focusing on encouraging visitors to visit outside of peak season, and also on regional growth to bring more visitors and associated revenue to the regions.”

Comparing Jan/Feb ‘19 with Jan/Feb ’18:

  • Overall trips to Ireland were up by 7% to 1,242,000 visits;
  • Visits from North America were up by 10.7% to 192,000 visits;
  • Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 7.8% to 440,500 visits;
  • Great Britain registered an increase of 3.9% to 524,800 visits;
  •  Visits from the rest of the world (long-haul) increased by 14.8% to 84,700 visits.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin T.D. said: I welcome the CSO visitor number figures today. It is encouraging to see such strong growth in the first two months of the year. However, it is early in the year yet and I will be closely monitoring the data as the year progresses to see how we perform as we approach high season. We've broken all records in recent years and I very much want to see 2019 being another record year for visitor numbers and revenue.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures from the CSO indicate that overseas arrivals increased by +7% in the first two months of 2019, around 81,200 additional arrivals when compared with January-February 2018. However, it is early days yet – arrivals in January and February represent around 11% of total annual arrivals and growth in the month of February alone has slowed to +2.7%. Arrivals from North America grew by almost +11% in the first two months of 2019, an extra 18,700 US and Canadian visitors. We’ve also seen good results from Mainland Europe, up almost +8%, with particularly strong performances from France, Spain and Germany. Visitor numbers from Australia and emerging tourism markets increased by almost +15%. While we welcome the fact that arrivals from Britain are up +4% for January-February 2019, we’re very much aware of the continued uncertainty about Brexit and its impact on outbound travel from Britain – and that remains a concern.

Looking to the upcoming summer season, the air and sea access picture is very positive – with increases in the number of airline seats from Britain, Mainland Europe, North America and long-haul markets. Tourism Ireland’s new ‘Fill Your Heart with Ireland’ campaign is rolling out around the world. Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue this year to €6.5 billion, for the island of Ireland.”

Responding to today’s CSO data, Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly said: “Today’s CSO figures show that tourism has made a steady start to the year. However, it is premature to use this as an indication of how tourism figures will progress over the coming year, particularly in the face of Brexit. The on-going uncertainty around Brexit is a major challenge particularly for the tourism sector as Britain is Ireland’s largest source market for tourism, providing almost half of our overseas visitors. Fáilte Ireland has developed a series of initiatives for industry to help them manage the Brexit challenge. Earlier this year we invested €5 million in a comprehensive programme of supports and commercial development programmes to help tourism businesses ‘Get Brexit Ready’ by diversifying to other markets thereby reducing their reliance on the British market. Our key message to the sector continues to be –‘prepare and diversify’. With this proactive approach, combined with a focus on offering high quality service and good value for money, we hope to see further growth in the year ahead.”

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