Commenting on the CSO figures issued today for overseas visitor numbers to Ireland for 2011, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said:“Today’s figures show that, despite the challenges and uncertainty which faced the global economy last year, visitor numbers from overseas for 2011 are almost 8% ahead of 2010. While the final quarter showed a decrease of -3%, the overall growth in 2011 is an encouraging basis on which Tourism Ireland will build this year.
“As we look to the coming tourism season, we are very much aware that the economic landscape continues to present a challenging environment for travel, particularly in the first quarter of 2012; however, overall sentiment and anecdotal feedback from tour operators and travel trade contacts in key markets, as well as those working in the tourism industry around the island, is cautiously optimistic for quarters two and three.
“Tourism Ireland is currently rolling out our brand new global advertising campaign ‘Jump into Ireland’, to capitalise on the strong interest in the island of Ireland in all our markets. We are pulling out all the stops to ensure that the island of Ireland increases its share of the global travel business in 2012 and beyond and that we achieve further growth. It is important to remember that people around the world still want to take holidays. People are continuing to travel but taking shorter trips, staying closer to home and being careful with their money, as value for money remains an important consideration when making holiday plans. We also have a lot going for us this year, with major events like the grand finale of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 taking place in Galway and the annual Notre Dame-Navy American football game coming to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.”
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.