While three-quarters of our overseas visitors come from our top four markets (GB, the US, Germany and France), it is important to expand our focus beyond the traditional markets to the longer-term opportunities presented by emerging and developing markets like Australia/New Zealand, the Middle East, India and China.
The new British-Irish Visa Scheme, launched in 2014, has opened up new opportunities in some of these markets and is making it easier for visitors from countries like India and China to come to the island of Ireland. It enables relevant visitors to travel freely between Ireland and the United Kingdom using either an Irish or a UK visa.
Latest available data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) suggests visitor numbers from Australia and Developing markets to Ireland increased by +8% in 2014, following a number of years of record performances, driven largely by the Australian market. Figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency indicate that visitors from these markets to Northern Ireland grew by +2% in 2014.
Steady growth continues in 2015 and recent results from the CSO suggest that visitors from Australia and Developing markets to Ireland were up +8.5% for the January to July 2015 period. Results for Q1 2015 for Northern Ireland will be published shortly by NISRA.