Commenting on the CSO figures issued today for overseas visitors to Ireland for the three-month period March to May 2012, Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said:“ The global economic landscape, and in particular the crisis in the Eurozone, has presented a challenging environment for travel and tourism since the beginning of the year – which is reflected in today’s CSO figures which show a drop of -1% for the period March-May.
“However, within today’s figures there are a number of encouraging indicators. As our tourism partners here at home and overseas have suggested, business from Mainland Europe continues to grow, with core markets all recording increases. Visitor numbers from Germany are up almost +10%, France +6%, Italy +9%, the Nordic region +9.5% and Benelux + 8% for the period March to May; this growth is expected to continue into the summer months.
“I also welcome the positive figures from Australia and developing markets like China and India of +12% – thanks in part to the ease of access now, with 17 flights to Ireland with Etihad and Emirates via the Middle East, as well as the visa waiver scheme. Other good news is that the US and Canadian markets have now returned to growth, after a weak start to the year. Improvements in American consumer confidence and the value of the dollar against the euro are likely to have a positive effect on outbound travel from the US over the coming months.
“The British market is still proving difficult, with weak consumer confidence having a significant impact on outbound travel. Many GB residents are opting for ‘staycations’ and travel by Britons to all destinations in Western Europe is down -3% for the first four months of the year. However, our “Escape the Madness” campaign is now in full swing, targeting more than eight million Londoners to promote Ireland as a hassle-free holiday from the upcoming Olympic Games. Also, the recent drop in value of the euro against sterling means that – combined with the better value now available on the ground in Ireland – the cost of a holiday here is more attractive for British visitors than it has been for some time.
“Late booking patterns still prevail in many of our source markets, demonstrating that there is still everything to play for this summer and for the remainder of the year. Our teams are working hard across the markets to maximise those opportunities. Despite economic uncertainty, demand remains strong for travel in both advanced and emerging markets. In addition, some forthcoming high profile events – like the final of the Volvo Ocean Race next week and the Notre Dame vs Navy game at the Aviva Stadium in September – promise to deliver many thousands of international visitors.”
Overseas tourism has a critical role to play in contributing to Ireland’s economic recovery. Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% (approximately €3.4 billion) of all tourism revenue and has the capacity to deliver even more for Ireland as part of an export-led economic renewal. Tourism is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, contributing almost 4% of GNP and providing employment for over 200,000 people in every community throughout the island.
Further media information:
Sinéad Grace, Tourism Ireland t: 087 685 9027
Notes to Editors:
• Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
• Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 200,000 people.
• In 2011, approximately 7.3 million overseas visitors came to the island of Ireland (+6% on 2010), delivering revenue of approximately €3.4 billion. Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% of all tourism revenue.
• Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.discoverireland.com; there are 42 different websites, providing information in 14 different languages covering every continent. In 2011, discoverireland.com attracted almost 12 million unique visitors.