13.7% increase in overseas visits to Ireland

CSO data released today shows that the number of overseas visits to Ireland in the first five months of 2016 increased by 13.7% compared to the corresponding period of 2015.

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross T.D. welcomed the positive figures: 

“Today’s figures reflect an excellent performance for overseas visit numbers with an increase of 13.7% in the first five months of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015. These figures once again confirm that our tourism sector is continuing to perform well and we are on track for another excellent year. Of course the result of the referendum in the United Kingdom shows how events outside our control can potentially impact on our strong performance. Nevertheless, the Great Britain market will remain of significant importance to Irish tourism in the short, medium and long term. Tourism Ireland has an extensive marketing programme in place for the second half of 2016 and that is rolling out right now in 23 markets overseas including Great Britain. It is important to get the message out there that there are no changes to how people can travel between Ireland and the United Kingdom. We will continue to monitor developments and respond as required.”

Comparing the period to the end of May with the same period in 2015:

  • Overall trips to Ireland were up by 13.7% to just over 3.46 million visits;
  • North America was up by 18.3%;
  • Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 11.5%;
  • Visits from the rest of the world increased by 0.7%;
  • Great Britain registered an increase of 15.7% with 1.54 million visits.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O Donovan T.D. added: “As we enter into the peak summer season, I am encouraged by the strong start we have seen to 2016. Todays release shows that we are performing strongly across all of our target markets and growth is not confined to any particular geographic area. We have a wonderful schedule of festivals and events throughout Ireland in the coming weeks. This is a fantastic opportunity for Irish tourism and our tourism agencies will continue fighting for business, promoting the wonderful tourism product that we have in Ireland.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures represent an excellent performance for overseas tourism to date, with growth of almost +14% for January to May. We have seen exceptional results from North America for the five-month period of January to May – up over +18% on the same five-month period in 2015. I also welcome the strong increase in British visitors (almost +16%). Mainland Europe has also turned in a superb performance (+12%), with important markets like Italy, Spain and the Benelux countries all showing really good growth. The outcome of the recent EU referendum in the UK has given rise to economic uncertainty and currency movements, which have the capacity to hamper growth. Tourism Ireland is liaising with our key stakeholders and monitoring developments. We are determined to get the message out that it is business as usual. Britain remains an extremely important market for Irish tourism and Tourism Ireland is undertaking an extensive programme of promotions in Britain, and elsewhere around the world, to ensure this strong performance continues. Our aim is to ensure that 2016 is another record-breaking year for Irish tourism.”

Shaun Quinn CEO of Fáilte Ireland stated:  “As these figures indicate, it’s been a good year so far for Irish tourism and visitor markets in the US and Europe have performed strongly and are expected to continue to grow. Britain has also performed well so far this year but the Brexit result has now thrown some uncertainty over that market.”

“We have been warning for some time against any sort of complacency creeping into the sector and encouraging the Irish tourism sector to maintain a strong competitive position. We, in Fáilte Ireland, are monitoring any short term impacts of a devalued Sterling on tourist traffic to Ireland and we will be working with tourism businesses to address any competitiveness challenges which may arise.”

“Tourism is still well positioned for further growth – as long as we maintain our competitiveness and continue to shape our offering on the ground to meet the changing needs of the modern consumer.”  

Press Office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, 01 604 1090 / 01 604 1093
www.dttas.ie pressoffice@dttas.ie