Commenting on the CSO figures issued today for overseas visitor numbers to Ireland for the three-month period September to November 2012, Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “Despite the global economic landscape which continues to present a challenging environment for travel, I am pleased to see growth of +4% for the three-month period September to November 2012. Overall, 2012 was a mixed year for overseas tourism. Certain markets performed particularly well, including North America and Germany, which had one of their strongest years ever; and long-haul markets look set for a record year. Other markets including Great Britain, have proved more challenging, with a flat economy and weak consumer confidence having a significant impact on overseas travel by Britons throughout the year.”
North America – Final figures for 2012 look set to show that this market had its second best year. Visitor numbers from North America for the three month-period September to November alone are up almost +20%. And, with the number of airline seats from the United States to Ireland set to grow by more than +20% this summer, Tourism Ireland believes this is a market of considerable potential.
Mainland Europe – Business from Mainland Europe continues to perform well (almost +6%% for the period September to November), with Germany in particular having an excellent year (+12%); and other important markets like Italy (+6%), Spain (+8%) and the Nordic countries (+11%) also recording good growth.
Great Britain – The pace of economic recovery and weak consumer confidence in Great Britain are still having a significant impact on outbound travel, with British visitor numbers down -3% for the three-month period. Tourism Ireland is rolling out a brand new plan in 2013, developed in conjunction with industry partners – called “GB Path to Growth” – to return this, our largest market, to sustained growth. The plan aims to grow the number of British holidaymakers by +20% i.e. an additional 200,000 holiday visitors per year by 2016.
Australia and Developing Markets – 2012 looks set to be a record year for visitor numbers from the longer-haul markets like Australia, China and India. Visitor numbers from these markets for the three month-period September to November alone are up almost +8%. Indications for 2013 are also positive; Etihad recently announced a +35% increase in capacity on its service from Abu Dhabi to Dublin, which is in addition to the Emirates service from Dubai – both providing excellent connectivity for Ireland with the Middle East and longer-haul markets.
Niall Gibbons continued: “As we look ahead to 2013, we are very much aware that the economic landscape presents a challenging environment for travel. However, despite the uncertainty surrounding the pace of economic recovery in our key source markets, we believe that – working closely with our industry partners in 2013 – we can deliver a +5% increase in visitor numbers, with North America and Mainland Europe representing significant potential. In particular, The Gathering Ireland 2013 and Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 present tremendous opportunities for us to shine a spotlight on the island of Ireland around the world.”
Overseas tourism has a critical role to play in contributing to Ireland’s economic recovery. Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% (approximately €3.5 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 2012, an estimated 7.27 million overseas visitors came to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of approximately €3.51 billion. Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% of all tourism revenue.
• Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.ireland.com; there are 11 different language versions for 30+ individual markets around the world.
• ‘The Gathering Ireland 2013’ will be Ireland’s biggest ever tourism initiative and will consist of a year-long programme of festivals, events and gatherings in every part of the country. Tourism Ireland has an extensive programme of promotions under way to highlight ‘The Gathering Ireland 2013’ around the world, working closely with the ‘Gathering’ project team.