Tourism Ministers Welcome Overseas Visitor Data

The Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross T.D. and the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin T.D. today welcomed the latest official data on overseas travel from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which showed an increase of 7.1% in overseas visits to Ireland for the first ten months of 2018 compared to the same period of 2017.  


Commenting on the figures, Minister Ross stated: “Today’s CSO release confirms continued growth in visit numbers for the first 10 months of 2018. It now looks as though 2018 will be another record breaking year for overseas tourism to Ireland, which will mark 8 consecutive years of growth for the industry.


Over the past couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to see the plans that the tourism agencies have for 2019 and both Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland are optimistic that we will have another good year, notwithstanding the risk from Brexit. Significantly increased Government investment will allow the agencies to continue to develop our tourism offering and also expand our overseas marketing efforts.


What we need to do is to grow in a sustainable manner. Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland are very focused on extending the season and ensuring that all regions benefit from the continuing development of tourism. This is consistent with the overall aim of the next Tourism Action Plan which I intend to publish in the coming weeks following a meeting of the Tourism Leadership Group last week.”


The latest CSO figures on Overseas Travel show:

  • At 9,137,000 visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 7.1% in the first ten months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
  • Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 9.6% for January to October 2018 (3,304,800 visits);
  • North America registered an increase of 13.7% for January – October 2018 (2,097,200 visits);
  • Visits from Great Britain increased by 1% for January – October 2018 (3,164,700 visits).
  • Visits from the rest of the world, mostly long-haul and developing markets, were up by 6.3% totalling 570,300 visits.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin TD added: “I am very pleased to see the continued growth of visit numbers through October 2018. I was delighted to attend the World Travel Market in London at the beginning of this month. With around 50,000 travel professionals from 182 countries and regions around the world and over 3,000 international media in attendance, the World Travel Market provides an excellent platform for Tourism Ireland, and the participating tourism enterprises, to highlight Ireland’s world-class tourism experience to international tour operators.


The event highlighted for me once again the importance of standing out from the crowd. That is why it is so important that we continue to capitalise on the qualities for which we are famous, like our friendliness, our beautiful landscape and our vibrant towns and cities, while at the same time evolving to meet the needs of an ever changing marketplace. With increased Government investment in 2019, I am confident we can sustain growth and continue to be successful.”


Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures from the CSO confirm that overseas visitor numbers increased by +7.1% during the January-October period – 605,300 additional overseas arrivals when compared with the first ten months of 2017. Particularly welcome in today’s figures is the continued strong performance from North America, with an increase of +13.7%.

A number of factors are working in our favour, including more airline seats than ever before, from more gateways across the US and Canada. We’ve also seen really good results from Mainland Europe, up +9.6% on January-October last year, with particularly strong performances from Germany (almost +20%) and Italy (almost +11%). Tourism Ireland has prioritised North America and Mainland Europe, as markets which offer a strong return on investment, in terms of holiday visitors and expenditure.


Visitors from Australia and emerging markets like China are up +6.3%. While we welcome the fact that arrivals from Britain are up +1%, the impact of Brexit on outbound travel from Britain is still a concern. Tourism Ireland has a number of late-season campaigns under way right now, to kick-start our promotional effort for 2019. Earlier this week, we outlined our plans for next year, when we will be pulling out all the stops to ensure that the island of Ireland continues to increase its share of the global travel business. Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue in 2019 to €6.5 billion, for the island of Ireland.”


Responding to today’s figures, Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly said: “We are coming to the end of what has been the best year ever for the Irish tourism industry. This year the sector has again made another significant increase in its contribution to the Irish economy, and I’m delighted to see such stellar growth continuing into October. Feedback from the industry is that October has been a particularly strong month in terms of performance and, at Fáilte Ireland, we are pleased to see this growth as we are working hard to extend the tourism season.


“Business Tourism continues to be fundamental in our seasonal growth, as conference delegates typically arrive outside of the summer months, and in October we welcomed a total of 13,600 delegates, generating an additional €20.8m in economic revenue. In addition to this, we have been working alongside Tourism Ireland with overseas holiday buyers and tour operators to promote off-season itineraries. For example, this year, one partnership alone with a US operator drove an additional 6,000 bed nights into the regions in October, supporting tourism businesses to stay open longer and in turn, keep their seasonal staff on board.


In the year ahead, we will continue to focus on extending the season, and initiatives such as a brand new Halloween Festival and Month of Food will play a key part in this activity.”