Overseas Visits To Ireland Continue To Rise

Overseas visits to Ireland have continued to rise, with an increase of 7.8% in the first eight months of 2018, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Welcoming the report, the Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross, said: "Again, the data released from the CSO confirms that overseas visitor numbers are continuing to grow throughout this year. With the conclusion of the Brexit negotiations approaching, I am conscious of the performance and importance of the British market to the industry here.

"I am encouraged that visits from Britain are slightly up this year. I am, however, well aware from my interactions with the industry that Brexit remains a significant risk for tourism here. We will seek to protect our share of the British market regardless of the outcome of the negotiations but it is to our advantage that our market diversification strategy has made us less reliant on Britain than was the case previously.

"It is heartening to see the industry here thinking along these lines also, as shown by Fáilte Ireland progressing the rollout of the China Ready Programme earlier this month. This initiative is part of Fáilte Irelands work assisting Irish tourism business with market diversification and reducing the risks posed by Brexit."

The latest CSO figures on Overseas Travel show:

• At over 7.2 million visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 7.8% in the first eight months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

• Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 10.5% for January to August 2018 (2.6 million visits);

• North America registered an increase of 13.2% for January – August 2018 (1.6 million visits);

• Visits from Great Britain increased by 2.5% for January – August 2018 (2.5 million visits).

• Visits from the rest of the world, mostly long-haul and developing markets, were up by 5.3% totalling 451,200 visits.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin TD added: "I am pleased to welcome today's CSO release which highlights growth of 7.8% in the first 8 months of 2018. Particularly encouraging is the growth from long-haul markets, such as North America. On a recent visit to New York, I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the work of the agencies overseas. The fantastic expansion in air access in recent years means there were 57,000 seats a week to Ireland this summer from 16 gateways in the US, with air access also to be up around +7% for the winter. Good air access and maintaining market share in long-haul destinations will be vital for tourism to continue to prosper."

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: "Today's figures from the CSO confirm that overseas visitor numbers increased by almost +8% during the January-August period – 520,500 additional overseas arrivals when compared with the first eight months of 2017. This was the best ever month of August for Irish tourism, with more than 1.2 million arrivals. Particularly welcome in today's figures is the continued strong performance from North America, with an increase of +13.2%. 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 excellent results from Mainland Europe, up +10.5% on January-August last year, with particularly strong performances from Germany (+21%) and Italy (+13.4%). 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.

"While we welcome the fact that arrivals from Britain are up almost +2.5%, it's too early to say if this represents a turnaround in the long-term trend. The impact of Brexit on outbound travel from Britain, therefore, remains a concern. We are determined to ensure that tourism growth continues. Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue in 2018 to €6 billion, for the island of Ireland."

Welcoming today's figures, Fáilte Ireland's CEO Paul Kelly said: "Irish tourism has enjoyed a record summer, with visitor numbers reaching their highest figures yet. This success has not been accidental, but has been sustained by a mixture of good planning at State level, and the work of an innovative industry. Government supports for tourism, including a competitive VAT rate, have allowed Ireland to compete overseas for visitors, and significant investment from ourselves at Fáilte Ireland in tourism experiences on the ground has created many compelling reasons for people to come here. However, despite the sunny figures, there are some clouds on the horizon. The foremost challenge in the near-term is Brexit - sentiment across the industry is already starting to soften and there is real concern in many parts of the country about its potential impact on business. There are also many tourism businesses, particularly in rural Ireland, still operating on very tight margins and facing cost inflation pressures on insurance and wages.

"If we are to sustain the impressive performance reflected in today's figures, as well as the €1.7bn in revenue this activity provides to the Exchequer, we will need to maintain the best possible environment in which tourism businesses can thrive, and ensure our industry stays competitive. This will include continuing to invest in new and innovative attractions which will entice more visitors to our shores, and working with industry to ensure the sector remains agile and able to diversify to meet the needs of key markets going forward."


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