Mainland Europe, the fastest-growing source market for tourism to the island of Ireland in recent years, now accounts for over 30% of total overseas visitors. However, even more significantly, Mainland Europe now accounts for 37% of all revenue from overseas tourism at €1.59BN, rivalling the traditional front-running market of Great Britain (€1.65BN).
A major review of Mainland European markets, carried out by Tourism Ireland to assess and prioritise best prospects for future growth, confirms that Germany and France continue to be the two key European markets offering the best potential for tourism growth. Further opportunity also exists in the Italian, Spanish, Netherlands and Swedish markets.
The Review found that over the period 2002-2007:
• Visitors from Europe to the island of Ireland grew by +87%
• Revenue increased by +62%
• Holiday visitors per year almost doubled to 1.4 million
• Business, including conference visitors, grew by +60%
• Visitors from Europe have a high propensity to visit Regions and Northern Ireland
• Visitors from Europe account for just under two out of every five (39%) bednights.
Launching the review, Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts Sport & Tourism, said: “Mainland Europe has been the star performer for Irish tourism for the past number of years. However, given the scale and diversity of the markets, it was important to review our best prospects so we can secure growth into the future, and can prioritise our marketing effort and investment to ensure best results.”
Simon Gregory, Tourism Ireland’s Director of Markets, said that the completion of the review coincided with perhaps the most challenging conditions facing the tourism sector globally for more than a decade. “The significant expansion of direct air services from Europe to the island of Ireland over the past five years has been a key driver behind the strong performance. Without the benefit of further major developments in air services, the challenge will be to continue to grow the market. While the short-term outlook is both uncertain and challenging because of the global downturn, the medium- to longer-term prospects are for continued growth in intra-European travel. The review points to a growth opportunity when the upturn happens and demand expands again.”
The challenge for tourism on the island of Ireland is that Mainland Europe consists of over 30 diverse markets at differing stages of development. The review, undertaken in conjunction with the tourism industry on the island of Ireland and in Europe, carried out an in-depth analysis of prevailing market conditions and competition. It also considered the recent evolution of visitor flows in Europe and quantified the scale of the opportunity in the period up to 2013, during which time Tourism Ireland will be targeting above average growth from these markets.
The outcome of the review suggests a top tier grouping of six ‘best prospect’ source markets for the island of Ireland, with Germany representing the largest volume potential, followed by France. Further opportunity exists in the Italian, Spanish, Netherlands and Swedish markets.
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Sinéad Grace, Media & PR Manager, Tourism Ireland
Tel: 01 476 3493/ 087 685 9027