Welcoming the CSO figures issued today for overseas visitor numbers to Ireland for the second quarter of 2011, Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “The growth in overseas visitor numbers of almost +15% for the second quarter of the year (+12% YTD) is welcome news indeed for everyone in the tourism industry. The figures show a welcome return to growth from Great Britain (+7.7%), our largest and most important market; North America (+16.6%); Mainland Europe (+21%); and from Australia and developing markets (+20%).
Key points from the CSO figures issued today include:
• The all-important Great Britain market, which accounts for about 45% of all our overseas tourism business, has shown continued growth in the second quarter, representing a solid and consistent performance. It is also important to note that Ireland regained market share from GB in the first half of 2011 i.e. while trips taken by Britons to other European destinations grew by +5% in the first half of the year, GB trips to Ireland for the same period increased by over +7%.
• The very strong performance from North America in the first half of 2011 represents a return to close to that market’s peak in 2007 and 2008.
• Mainland Europe has also shown excellent growth, in particular from France and Germany, our two largest European markets.
• Growth in the number of people arriving from Australia and developing markets has also returned to close to the peak level of 2008. Undoubtedly, the Government’s new Visa Waiver Scheme, announced earlier this year, will help further boost tourism in the coming months from emerging markets like China, India and the GCC countries – reminding people there that if they are visiting the UK, they can now come to Ireland without the cost or hassle of applying for a separate visa.
Niall Gibbons continued: “Of course, when comparing the number of visitors with 2010 figures, we have to bear in mind that volcanic ash closed airports here and in Britain and Mainland Europe in spring 2010, impacting significantly on the number of overseas visitors who arrived here. And, the month of May of this year was particularly positive for tourism, with the two historic visits of Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama and the UEFA Europa League final in Dublin."
“Anecdotal reports from our industry partners around the island of Ireland confirm a more positive picture overall than this time last year. However, we know that distribution of visitors is uneven, with some areas performing better than others. The current outlook for North America, Mainland Europe and emerging markets is positive for the coming months. The economic situation in Britain remains fragile and we are keeping the market under close review. We will shortly roll out our autumn campaign, which will be designed to capitalise on late booking trends, as there is still everything to play for. People are increasingly opting for shorter holiday breaks, and autumn/winter is a popular time. In association with our industry colleagues we have enticing autumn offerings, developed around festivals and themes such as food, music, literature and the arts.”
Overseas tourism has a critical role to play in contributing to Ireland’s economic recovery. Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% (approximately €3.1 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 in excess of 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: 01 476 3493/ 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.
• Approximately 6.7 million overseas visitors came to the island of Ireland in 2010, delivering revenue of approximately €3 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 2010 discoverireland.com attracted almost 12 million unique visitors.