Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has welcomed strong visitor numbers from the high-spending European, long-haul and North American markets between January and September, and said a new initiative from the tourism agencies and industry launched this week will play an important role in restoring the British market.
“I’m encouraged to see strong visitor numbers from EU markets, and that North American and long-haul markets are holding their own. This is in spite of the ongoing economic difficulties across much of Europe and further afield. Visitors from these markets tend to stay longer and spend more, which translates into good business for much of the overall tourism industry. The latest Fáilte Ireland Tourism Barometer highlighted the importance of these markets to tourism.
“However, the slight drop in total trips to Ireland reflects the disappointing performance from Britain, where a flat economy and weak consumer confidence had a significant impact on outbound travel. Lower visitor numbers were compounded by poor weather this summer. The reasons are complex, and include the fact that fewer Britons are holidaying abroad now than in 2001.
“Although British visitors tend to spend a shorter time in Ireland, it remains our most important market. The Gathering Ireland 2013 initiative will be one of a number of measures to reverse the decline. And the new initiative launched this week by the tourism agencies and the industry to restore the British market is also very significant. The Tourism Recovery Taskforce’s ‘GB Path to Growth’ report takes a hard look at how to increase visitor numbers from Britain. I expect the report’s recommendations will be reflected in the 2013 plans of agencies and businesses.”
For the first nine months of 2012, the CSO reports that:
• The number of visits from European markets (excluding Great Britain) was up by 1.3% (1.8 million visits);
• Overall overseas visits fell by 1.1% (5.08 million visits) up to the end of September;
• Other (i.e. long-haul) markets registered a 3.7% increase (293,700 visits);
• Visits from North America returned to growth, with a 0.6% increase (815,600 visits);
• However, Great Britain registered a decrease of 4.3% (2.13 million visits).
For the third quarter (July – September 2012):
• Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 1.8%, with Italy (+12.5%), Germany (+8.5%) and Spain (+3.1%) performing particularly strongly;
• North America was up 3.6%;
• Visits from the rest of the world remained flat (-0.1%).
“We need to make sure that every market performs to its maximum potential so that the tourism sector benefits from a broadly based and sustainable recovery. Using The Gathering Ireland as our centrepiece for 2013, and through continued collaboration between Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and the Irish tourist industry, I am confident that we can grow overall tourist numbers into the future,” Minister Varadkar said.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring added: ‘Festivals and events are providing a particularly strong draw for tourism and we have several exciting festivals yet to come before the year is out, starting this week with the Wexford Festival Opera and this weekend’s Cork Jazz Festival’.