Commenting on the CSO figures issued today for overseas visitors to Ireland for the three-month period July to September 2012, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Global economic conditions, and in particular, the pace of economic recovery in Great Britain, continue to present a challenging environment for travel to Ireland, as reflected in today’s CSO figures.
“Business from Mainland Europe continues to perform well, with Germany having a record year so far (+7% for the period July-September); and other important markets like Italy (+14%), the Nordic region (+3.4%) and Benelux (+2%) recording growth. The all-important North American market is also having a very strong year, with visitors numbers up +21% for the month of September alone, when we welcomed 36,000 American football fans for the Notre Dame v Navy game – reflecting the importance of large-scale sporting events for our tourism industry. Longer-haul markets are also performing well, with Australia and New Zealand (+6%) and emerging markets like China and India (+2%) also showing growth for the July to September period.
“The British market is still proving difficult with a slow and uncertain economic recovery and weak consumer confidence having a significant impact on outbound travel. However, earlier this week, Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar received a significant new strategy to revitalise performance in the British market. The report – called ‘GB Path to Growth’ – sets out a new plan for restoring growth from our largest source market, Great Britain. We are also preparing for a very special year in 2013, with the Gathering and right now, we have an extensive programmer of promotions in place right around the globe, highlighting the exciting programme of events in the pipeline for the Gathering.”
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.