Positive tourism figures for the last three months have been welcomed by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar who highlighted strong growth from Europe, North America and long-haul destinations.
“There has been good growth from the North American, long-haul and European markets, in spite of the difficult economic climate. The North American performance was particularly strong with growth of 15% between August and October compared to the previous year. Visitors from these destinations tend to stay longer and spend more during their visits.
“Visitor numbers from Britain continue to decline but these latest figures suggest that the fall-off is stabilising, after a particularly bad summer. Following a 7% increase in overall visitor numbers last year, that growth has been held on to this year and further growth is anticipated next year due to the Gathering.
“The positive performance in several markets shows that our marketing campaigns are working, particularly in North America. It also reinforces our decision to host the Notre Dame-Navy American football game in Dublin at the start of September and to use it to promote the Gathering in North America. If more than 30,000 Americans travelled for that one event, I am sure that the Gathering Ireland 2013 and our packed calendar of events to be announced next week will provide many reasons for more North American tourists to visit next year.”
Comparing the first ten months of 2012 to the same period in 2011, the CSO reports that:
• Visits from North America grew by 2% (903,300 visits);
• The number of visits from European markets (excluding Great Britain) was up by 2.1% (2 million visits);
• Other (i.e. long-haul) markets registered a 4.3% increase (324,200 visits);
• Overall overseas visits were flat (-0.4%) up to the end of October (5.6 million visits);
• Great Britain registered a decrease of 3.9% (2.4 million visits).
Comparing the three-month period August-October 2012 with the same period in 2011:
• Overall trips were up by 1.6%;
• North America was up 14.9%;
• Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 3.3%, with Germany (+10.7%), Italy (+5%), Spain (+4.9%) and non-traditional European markets (+7.5%) performing particularly well;
• Visits from the rest of the world increased by 1.7% (Australia and New Zealand grew by 4.8%);
• Great Britain registered a decline of 4.5% in visits.
Minister Varadkar said: ‘I am confident we can restore Britain, our most important tourist market, to growth and continue to build on encouraging performances across the rest of Europe, North America and further afield. Tourism Ireland’s marketing plan for 2013, which I will be launching this week, will provide more detail of how we plan to improve our tourism performance in the year of the Gathering’.
Minister for State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring said: ‘Our focus is very much on the Gathering and making sure that 2013 is a fantastic year for communities across the country, and for those visiting Ireland next year. We will shortly be announcing the full calendar of events for the Gathering, and are also preparing for the New Year’s Eve celebrations to launch this year-long celebration. It promises to be great fun for everyone’.