New figures showing strong growth in visitor numbers of 3.9% at the end of 2012 have been welcomed by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar.
The CSO figures for September to November 2012 showed strong growth of 5.8% from mainland Europe compared to 2011, a 7.9% increase in visitors from long-haul markets, and a 19.7% increase in visitor numbers from the US. Overall, visitor numbers for the year to November matches those for 2011.
“Despite a slow start to the year I expect the end of year figures for 2012 will show an overall increase in visitor numbers, building on the substantial recovery in 2011. These figures show that the positive trends which emerged in the autumn were sustained into November. There was particularly strong growth in visitor numbers from the North American, long-haul and European markets, who tend to stay longer and spend more. Although the British market continues to underperform, the rate of decline in visit numbers continued to slow in November.
“Our marketing efforts have moved up a level to promote the Gathering 2013, and have received a further boost with Ireland’s inclusion in Fodor’s Travel ‘Go List’ of top destinations to visit in 2013. USA Today has included The Gathering Ireland 2013 in its five ‘buzz-worthy destinations for 2013’, while Rick Steves’ has included a hurling match as one of the ‘8 magical experiences in Europe’. This positive coverage will help us to fill the expected 20% extra capacity on transatlantic flights into Ireland this summer.”
Particular stand-out markets in the three months from September to November 2012 include USA and Canada (+19.7%), Germany (+12%), Scandinavia (+10.6%) and Spain (+7.7%).
Comparing the three-month period September – November 2012 with the same period in 2011:
• Overall trips to Ireland were up by 3.9%;
• Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 5.8%, with Germany (+12%), Scandinavia (+10.6%), Spain (+7.7%) and non-traditional European markets (+8.6%) performing particularly well;
• North America was up 19.7%;
• Great Britain registered a decline of 3% in visits;
• Visits from the rest of the world increased by 7.9%, with Australia and New Zealand growing by 18.7%.
Comparing the first eleven months of 2012 to the same period in 2011, the CSO reports that:
• Overall visit numbers remained steady to the end of November (6.06 million visits);
• The number of visits from European markets (excluding Great Britain) was up by 2.6% (2.2 million visits);
• Visits from North America grew by 2.9% (962,000 visits);
• Other (i.e. long-haul) markets registered a 4.5% increase (346,100 visits);
• Great Britain registered a decrease of 3.7% (2.55 million visits).
Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring said: ‘The improving tourism trends, with improved confidence and access helping to deliver growth from key European, North American and long-haul markets and good international coverage of Ireland as a top tourism destination, all bode very well as we begin 2013, the year of the Gathering. Our packed calendar of festivals and events all around the country offers plenty of excellent reasons to visit Ireland’.