Tourism Ministers Welcome Continued Growth in Overseas Visitor Figures to Ireland

Thursday 25 April 2019

CSO data published today shows that the number of overseas visits to Ireland for the first quarter of 2019 increased by 5.5% compared to the corresponding period in 2018.

Commenting on the CSO data, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross T.D. stated: “I welcome today’s CSO release which shows continued growth in overseas visitors to Ireland in the first quarter of the year. The revenue we receive from overseas tourists is vital for businesses and communities across the country. The challenge for all of us involved in tourism is to ensure that we sustain growth into the future.

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2019, I have asked the agencies to focus on the policy priorities of delivering sustainable growth that is regionally and seasonally dispersed. To this end, I very much welcome initiatives such as the Fáilte Ireland led Taste the Island campaign, which will encourage holidaymakers to visit events and sample local produce across the island outside peak season, while at the same time improving Ireland’s image as a food tourism destination in what is now a huge market segment internationally. I hope that the industry will be fully on board with this initiative come the autumn.”

Comparing Q1 ‘19 with Q1 ’18:

  • Overall trips to Ireland were up by 5.5% to 2,026,700 visits;
  • Visits from North America were up by 10.7% to 367,200 visits;
  • Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 7.6% to 730,000 visits;
  • Great Britain registered an increase of 1.4% to 809,100 visits;
  • Visits from the rest of the world (long-haul) increased by 6.9% to 120,300 visits.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin T.D. said: “Today’s figures confirm a strong start to the year in 2019, particularly from North America and Mainland Europe. Last week I travelled to Boston where I had the opportunity to assist with Tourism Ireland’s Fill Your Heart with Ireland sales mission event. This important work being done in overseas markets, such as the US, is paying positive dividends for Ireland. It was great to see a number of Irish tourism businesses travelling as part of the sales mission which will help to ensure that they are well placed to sustain growth in the coming years.

As today’s data shows, Britain also continues to be an important market for tourism and next week I will attend the Irish Embassy in London where Tourism Ireland is working with the GAA to help raise the profile of Gaelic Games. This highlights Ireland as a holiday destination to the diaspora in Britain, particularly its younger members, and helps to maintain our tourism profile in Britain in these challenging times.”  

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland stated:, “Today’s figures from the CSO indicate that overseas arrivals increased by +5.5% in the first quarter of 2019, around 106,100 additional arrivals when compared with January-March 2018. However, it is early days yet – arrivals for the first quarter represent around 18% of total annual arrivals and growth in the month of March alone has slowed to +3.3%. Arrivals from North America grew by almost +11% in the first three months of 2019, an extra 35,700 US and Canadian visitors. We’ve also seen good results from Mainland Europe, up +7.6%, with particularly strong performances from France and Spain. Visitor numbers from Australia and emerging tourism markets increased by almost +7%. While we welcome the fact that arrivals from Britain are up +1.4% for January-March 2019, we know that the Brexit extension will continue to cause uncertainty for the summer season; however, we will continue to monitor the British market closely, working in conjunction with our British-based Brexit Taskforce.

“Looking to the upcoming summer season and the air access picture, there will be a +3% increase in number of airline seats available, down from the original estimate of +6%. A range of factors in the marketplace have contributed to this decline, including poor yields and stiff competition across Mainland Europe. We welcome the additional hotel capacity, which is facilitating growth; however, competitiveness remains key as we head into the peak season. Tourism Ireland’s new ‘Fill Your Heart with Ireland’ campaign is rolling out around the world. And, our largest-ever sales mission to China will take place next month, with 26 companies participating in the four-city sales blitz, to capitalise on additional air access and awareness of Ireland. Our aim is to grow overseas visitor numbers and revenue to the island of Ireland again in 2019.”

Responding to today’s CSO figures, Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly, said: “It is reassuring to see that overseas visitor numbers to Ireland are continuing on an upward trajectory and exceeding the figures from the same period last year. While this reflects the fact that international tourism is growing globally and Ireland continues to stand out as a destination, it is important to be cautious as we face a challenging year ahead. The potential impact of Brexit on our economy is a serious concern for the country as a whole but its impact specifically on the tourism industry, which one of Ireland’s biggest employers, should not be underestimated.”

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