Commenting on the CSO figures issued today for overseas visitor numbers to Ireland for the three-month period February to May 2013, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures from the CSO, showing growth of +4% for the period February to April, suggest a positive start to 2013, as we head into the high season. I particularly welcome the increase in visitor numbers from North America (+16%), which suggests we could be on course to achieve our best year ever from that market; in 2013, we hope to welcome over one million American visitors, spending about US$1 billion.
“We believe that Mainland Europe (+8.8%) also holds the key to tourism growth this year; it is very encouraging to see strong performances for the February to April period from important European markets like France (+20%), the Nordic region (+15.3%), Germany (+4.5%) and Benelux (+9%). This growth reflects the sentiment expressed by our industry partners, including tour operators and carriers, as well as some tourism businesses here at home.
“We know that Great Britain (-2%) continues to be challenging, with the pace of economic recovery and weak consumer confidence still continuing to impact on outbound travel. We are implementing our ‘GB Path to Growth’ plan, developed in conjunction with industry partners, to return this – our largest – market to sustained growth. The plan is to grow British holidaymakers by +20% i.e. an additional 200,000 holiday visitors per year by 2016. And, consumer confidence is vital if we are to sustain tourism growth.”
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.