Tourism Ministers Welcome CSO Overseas Visitor Data

CSO data published today (28th May 2019) shows that the number of overseas visits to Ireland for the first four months of 2019 increased by 5.1% 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 published today which confirms year on year growth in visit numbers of 5.1% for the first 4 months of 2019. Whilst this data only covers the early part of the year, it is encouraging to see growth which I believe can be sustained into the summer season.
The growth achieved in January-April is in line with our policy to improve seasonality in the tourism sector. In my Department’s Tourism Action Plan 2019-2021, there is a commitment to extend the regional and seasonal benefits of overseas tourism. The tourism agencies are working hard to generate increased tourism revenue outside of peak season and in less visited regions.
Market diversification continues to play a big part in our approach. Additional funding secured for overseas marketing this year has allowed Tourism Ireland to double its marketing efforts and on the ground presence in China. This funding has also facilitated expanded marketing activity in the US and Germany aimed at promoting travel in the off-peak season in particular. This shows that Government has the ambition to help the industry to grow in a way that is sustainable. Overall, the data published today shows we are heading in the right direction.”

Comparing Jan-Apr ‘19 with Jan-Apr ’18:
• Overall trips to Ireland were up by 5.1% to 2,965,000 visits;
• Visits from North America were up by 8.3% to 552,400 visits;
• Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 6.1% to 1,094,600 visits;
• Great Britain registered an increase of 2.4% to 1,148,100 visits;
• Visits from the rest of the world (long-haul) increased by 7.4% to 169,800 visits.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin T.D. said:
“I am delighted to welcome the numbers released by the CSO today. A growth in visit numbers is typically reflected in revenue generated, and this revenue brings vital jobs to regions across Ireland. The uncertainty surrounding Brexit continues to be a concern for tourism. The tourism agencies are continuing their efforts to mitigate the impact of Brexit on the sector. On the 7th June, Tourism Ireland will launch their Great Britain Market Strategy which follows a wide-ranging industry-led review of the GB market in collaboration with the agencies. This Strategy will inform how best to tackle the GB market, which continues to be one of our largest markets in terms of revenue generated. So far, market diversification has been successful in offsetting any impact from Brexit and we will continue to seek new opportunities. Nevertheless, Britain will remain a major source market for Irish tourism so this piece of work will be a very useful reference for the agencies and the industry as the situation evolves.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said:
“Today’s figures from the CSO indicate that overseas visitor numbers increased by +5.1% in the first four months of 2019, around 144,500 more than in January-April 2018. However, anecdotal reports suggest that this growth is not being felt evenly across the industry. It is also important to bear in mind that the first four months represent around 27% of total annual visitors. Today’s figures indicate a solid performance from our source markets. Visitors from North America grew by +8.3% in the first four months of 2019, an extra 42,300 US and Canadian visitors. We’ve also seen good results from Mainland Europe, up +6.1%, with strong performances in particular from France and Spain. Visitor numbers from the rest of the world increased by +7.3%.”

“Britain remains our most challenging market for the upcoming peak season. While we welcome the fact that visitor numbers are up +2.4% for January-April, we know that currency fluctuations and the Brexit extension will continue to cause uncertainty for the summer season and may affect travel demand. Next week, we will launch a new strategy for the British market; we will also continue to monitor the market closely, working in conjunction with our British-based Brexit Taskforce. Our aim is to continue to grow overseas visitor numbers and revenue this year despite the uncertainty around Brexit and some slippage in planned air services from North America and Britain.”

Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said:
“It is positive to see growth in overseas visitor numbers. However, this is not translating into the same levels of growth in tourism sector revenue due to a number of factors. Key challenges include visitors to Ireland staying for shorter average lengths of time and, according to industry feedback, what appears to be a slower start for domestic tourism which may be as a result of the proximity of Easter to the May Bank Holiday weekend this year. The industry is also telling us that uncertainty around Brexit and the affect it may have on the Irish economy is impacting both British and domestic tourism.”
“We know that cost pressures continue to be a key challenge for the industry, with increases in VAT, insurance premiums and labour costs the most frequently cited issues. With the uncertainty around Brexit unlikely to recede any time soon, and various other international economies slowing, it is vitally important that businesses continue to prepare themselves by diversifying into other markets. Businesses also need to be mindful of providing value for money in this highly competitive international market. Fáilte Ireland has a series of robust supports in place and will continue to work with tourism businesses and other state bodies throughout the country to develop the Irish tourism offering so that we can deliver long-term growth despite the current challenges.”


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