Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has said the latest CSO figures show overseas visitor numbers to Ireland are holding up compared to last year.
The new figures for March to May 2012 show that in spite of the economic uncertainty in the global market, visitor numbers were relatively unchanged. The figures for the first five months of the year were broadly in line with 2011 levels with a marginal decrease of 0.7%.
“Last year we saw growth in overseas visits to Ireland for the first time since 2007. While the figures have been on a par this year, I remain confident that we will see growth in the months ahead. I know the industry remains positive for the peak season based on enquiries and bookings, although clearly the outcome will depend on global economic conditions and consumer confidence being maintained in our key markets,” Minister Varadkar said.
The latest CSO figures on overseas travel show:
• Long-haul (other) markets registered an encouraging 3.4% increase between January and May 2012 (126,000 visits);
• Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 1.1% compared to the same period in 2011 (845,000 visits) with all the main markets showing growth for the March-May period;
• The number of visits from North America was up by 1% for the March-May period as summer routes reopened;
• However, the number of visits from Great Britain was down by 2.3% in the five months from January to May compared to the same period in 2011 (1.04 million visits).
“The global downturn has had a lasting impact on consumer behaviour with tourists taking fewer short trips at off-peak times. Ireland is not immune to this trend. However, there are god reasons to be confident that we are on track for sustainable growth:
• Inbound capacity on flights into Ireland is set to rise by 3% this summer;
• Ireland has the most competitively-priced hotel rooms in Western Europe;
• The Government continues to invest in overseas marketing and our attractive tourism product.
“We have already welcomed over 2.3 million overseas visits to Ireland this year. However, we cannot afford to be complacent. The entire tourism sector must keep fighting for business. Our tourism agencies will continue to promote the fact that this is the best time to visit Ireland in terms of value, and the wide range of things to see and do. Both myself and Minister Ring will be directly supporting the industry in promoting Irish tourism overseas in the months ahead, building on preparations for the Gathering Ireland 2013.”