Commenting on figures published by the CSO for overseas visitors to Ireland for January-March 2017, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “I am pleased to see growth of +1% for the three-month period January-March 2017, coming on the back of six years of solid growth in overseas tourism. Particularly welcome is the continued strong performance from North America, with an increase of over +23.2% in the first three months. Tourism Ireland has prioritised North America for 2017, as a market which offers a strong return on investment, in terms of holiday visitors and expenditure. A number of factors are working in our favour, including more airline seats than ever, from more gateways across the US and Canada.
“Visitor numbers from Australia and Developing Markets for the first three months are also really strong, up +16%. We’re seeing the benefit of our sales missions to Australia/New Zealand, China, India and the Middle East in 2016. Tourism Ireland’s 2017 sales mission to China is currently under way in a bid to increase our share of this rapidly-growing tourism market.
“While visitor numbers from Mainland Europe were flat during the January to March period – it is encouraging to see important markets like France (+9.8%) and Spain (+4.5%) continue to perform well. The fall in British visitors (-6.5%) reflects the economic situation. The drop in the value of sterling has made holidays and short breaks here more expensive for British visitors; and economic uncertainty is making British travellers more cautious about their discretionary spending. This is impacting on travel to Ireland. We will continue to monitor developments around Brexit closely, to better understand and plan for its implications and will be meeting tourism industry leaders again next week. Competitiveness and value for money will be a more important message than ever throughout 2017.
“For 2017, our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue by +4.5%, to €5.7 billion, for the island of Ireland. Tourism Ireland will create ‘stand out’ for Ireland around the world throughout 2017, highlighting iconic experiences like the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Titanic Belfast and the Causeway Coastal Route. We will also promote Dublin and Belfast, in particular for shoulder and off-peak travel. Screen tourism will remain a priority, as we continue to capitalise on our connections with Star Wars and Game of Thrones.”
Notes To Editors
- Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
- Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 220,000 people.
- In 2016, we welcomed approximately 10.5 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of about €5.4 billion.
- Tourism Ireland’s international website is www.ireland.com, 29 market sites available in 11 language versions around the world, which attracted 19.37 million visitors in 2016.