Minister Varadkar welcomes first increase in visitors to Ireland in 2011 for first time in four years
Minister for Transport, Transport and Sport Leo Varadkar has welcomed new CSO figures showing that the number of visitors to Ireland increased in 2011 for the first time since 2007.
Visitor numbers for the whole year increased by almost 8% compared to 2010, somewhat better than predicted, and with growth for the year in all the main market areas:
• Visits from overseas totalled over 6.5 million in 2011;
• Visits from Britain were up 5.1% for the year, to 2.878 million;
• Visits from the rest of Europe amounted to 2.283 million, up 11.6% on 2010;
• North American visits reached 987,100, up 5.5%;
• Visits from the rest of the world, largely Australasia and developing markets, reached 356,700 – up 12.2%.
“I am pleased to see the full-year figures confirming a return to growth in tourism in 2011. However, the reduction towards the end of the year shows we cannot afford to be complacent. Consumer sentiment is clearly having an impact with markets like France and Italy down, while Germany was up 15% for the last quarter on the 2010 results.
“Similarly, the record figures for 2011 from new markets show their increasing importance, with arrivals from outside our traditional core markets reaching 215,600. This is close to the number of visits we got from major European markets like Italy and Spain.
“The targeting of Brazil and Russia which Tourism Ireland announced this week, following their latest review of new markets, can help ensure this key growth sector’s contribution and help to make up for any vulnerable consumer sentiment in more traditional markets.
“While the return to growth in 2011 was welcome we still have to fight hard for Ireland’s share of global tourism spending. The Government remains committed to tourism, and the measures introduced in the Jobs Initiative, such as the 9% VAT rate, will stay in place for 2012.
“Furthermore, The Gathering 2013 means we can all make a contribution, large or small, by organising events and inviting our friends and family from all over the world to come to Ireland in 2013 and celebrate. The Government will be issuing its invitations to the world as part of forthcoming St Patrick’s Day events abroad.”