North America and Mainland Europe key to tourism growth in 2013
Commenting on the CSO figures issued today for overseas visitor numbers to Ireland for the three-month period September to November 2012, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Despite the global economic landscape which continues to present a challenging environment for travel, I am pleased to see growth of +4% for the three-month period September to November 2012. Overall, 2012 was a mixed year for overseas tourism. Certain markets performed particularly well, including North America and Germany, which had one of their strongest years ever; and long-haul markets look set for a record year. Other markets including Great Britain, have proved more challenging, with a flat economy and weak consumer confidence having a significant impact on overseas travel by Britons throughout the year.”
- North America – Final figures for 2012 look set to show that this market had its second best year. Visitor numbers from North America for the three month-period September to November alone are up almost +20%. And, with the number of airline seats from the United States to Ireland set to grow by more than +20% this summer, Tourism Ireland believes this is a market of considerable potential.
- Mainland Europe – Business from Mainland Europe continues to perform well (almost +6% for the period September to November), with Germany in particular having an excellent year (+12%); and other important markets like Italy (+6%), Spain (+8%) and the Nordic countries (+11%) also recording good growth.
- Great Britain – The pace of economic recovery and weak consumer confidence in Great Britain are still having a significant impact on outbound travel, with British visitor numbers down -3% for the three-month period. Tourism Ireland is rolling out a brand new plan in 2013, developed in conjunction with industry partners – called “GB Path to Growth” – to return this, our largest market, to sustained growth. The plan aims to grow the number of British holidaymakers by +20% i.e. an additional 200,000 holiday visitors per year by 2016.
- Australia and Developing Markets – 2012 looks set to be a record year for visitor numbers from the longer-haul markets like Australia, China and India. Visitor numbers from these markets for the three month-period September to November alone are up almost +8%. Indications for 2013 are also positive; Etihad recently announced a +35% increase in capacity on its service from Abu Dhabi to Dublin, which is in addition to the Emirates service from Dubai – both providing excellent connectivity for Ireland with the Middle East and longer-haul markets.
Niall Gibbons continued: “As we look ahead to 2013, we are very much aware that the economic landscape presents a challenging environment for travel. However, despite the uncertainty surrounding the pace of economic recovery in our key source markets, we believe that – working closely with our industry partners in 2013 – we can deliver a +5% increase in visitor numbers, with North America and Mainland Europe representing significant potential. In particular, The Gathering Ireland 2013 and Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 present tremendous opportunities for us to shine a spotlight on the island of Ireland around the world.”
Overseas tourism has a critical role to play in contributing to Ireland’s economic recovery. Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% (approximately €3.5 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.