Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring TD, have welcomed CSO data released today (Wednesday) which shows that the number of overseas visits to Ireland between December 2015 and February 2016 increased by 17.1% compared to the corresponding period of 2014/2015.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD said: ‘Today’s data shows that the significant growth in overseas visit numbers witnessed in recent years is continuing into 2016. While 2015 was a record year for Irish tourism, we are targeting even further growth in the years ahead. Earlier this year, Minister Ring and I published our Tourism Action Plan which sets out the priority actions in the period to 2018. These actions will seek to move us toward our 2025 targets of €5 billion in overseas tourism revenue (excluding air fares or ferry costs) and 250,000 jobs in the tourism sector, underpinned by ten million overseas visits per year. The visitor numbers released today show that our ambitious policy is building from a strong base. All of our main overseas markets are showing good growth levels and I know that sentiment within the industry is very positive for the remainder of the year ahead’.
Comparing the three-month period Dec ‘15 – Feb ‘16 with the period Dec ’14 – Feb’15:
- Overall trips to Ireland were up by 17.1 %;
- North America was up by 13%;
- Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 14.4%;
- Visits from the rest of the world increased by 8.8%;
- Great Britain registered an increase of 21.2% in visits.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring TD added: ‘Further positive data in relation to our visit numbers is very encouraging for the tourism sector. I am sure that the visitors we have welcomed so far this year have enjoyed everything that we have to offer, including, most recently, the St. Patrick’s Festival which started the tourism season in spectacular style. Our tourism industry has an exciting range of festivals and events lined up for visitors to experience for the remainder of the year.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: ‘Today’s figures represent a very positive start to 2016 – confirming that, for the first time ever, we welcomed more than 1 million visitors in the first two months of the year. In the period December 2015 and February 2016, almost a quarter of a million additional visitors (+17%) came to Ireland, when compared with the same three-month period last year. Growth was recorded from all of our markets around the world – including Britain (+21%), North America (+13%), Mainland Europe (over +14%) and from Australia and developing markets (almost +9%). Our focus now is on surpassing last year’s success, to ensure that 2016 is another record-breaking year for overseas tourism. We remain conscious of recent tragic events in Brussels and the potential impact on travel and we continue to monitor the situation’.
Shaun Quinn, CEO, Fáilte Ireland, commented: ‘While this visitor data relates to a small share of the overall season, it is nonetheless very encouraging, particularly when combined with industry reports of strong trading over both the St Patrick’s Festival and the Easter period. Obviously, the sector is very susceptible to external factors and consequently sustained tourism growth must be increasingly driven by the strength and international appeal of our brands, like the Wild Atlantic Way, and by ensuring that we continue to provide excellent value for money and top quality as in recent years’.