Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar has welcomed confirmation that the number of visitors to Ireland grew for the second year in a row in 2012, with particularly strong growth of 5% at the end of the year.
The CSO Overseas Tourism figures for 2012 show 3% growth in visits from North America during the year, growth of 2.8% in visits from mainland Europe, and particularly strong growth of 6.1% from other long-haul markets. Overall visitor numbers were on a par with 2011 figures, with growth of 0.2% during 2012.
There was a particular boost in the last three months of 2012, with the CSO reporting 14.2% growth from North America, 4.2% from Core European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Benelux, Scandinavia) and 15.5% growth from other long-haul markets.
“I’m very pleased to see net growth in visitor numbers for 2012, following the 7% growth in 2011. With the Gathering I am targeting growth of around 4%-5% on the basis of three years of successive growth. So the target now is to make sure that the 5% growth in visitor numbers at the end of 2012 is maintained as we continue with our calendar of Gathering events,” Minister Varadkar said.
“Although there was a slow start in 2012, we saw strong growth in the later part of the year with very strong growth from North America, core European and long-haul markets. Visitor numbers from Britain fell but it is important to point out that visitors from further away stay longer and spend more.
“A range of factors should help overall tourism performance in the year ahead, including increased air capacity from North America, not to mention the global buzz now building up around the Gathering Ireland 2013. Just last week, another major US paper in Atlanta highlighted Ireland as one of the places to be in 2013 following our selection by the New York Times, USA Today and Fodor’s.
“I am also very pleased to see another year of strong growth from Germany. This is up 6% after growing 12.1% from 2010 to 2011. Germany is Europe’s biggest outbound market, with fierce competition for the German tourist – but we are gaining ground, strong evidence of the quality and value of our tourism product.”
Comparing the final quarter of 2012 with the same period in 2011:
• Overall trips to Ireland were up by 5%;
• Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 8.8%, with Italy (+16.6%), Scandinavia (+10.9%), and Spain (+10.1%);
• North America was up by 14.2%;
• Visits from the rest of the world increased by 15.5%;
• Great Britain registered a decline of 1.3% in visits.
Comparing 2012 to 2011, the CSO reports that:
• Overall visit numbers grew by 0.2% (6.52 million visits);
• The number of visits from European markets (excluding Great Britain) was up by 2.8% (2.35 million visits), with Italy (+14%), Germany (+6%) and Scandinavia (+5%) performing particularly strongly;
• Visits from North America grew by 3% (1.02 million visits);
• Other (i.e. long-haul) markets registered an 6.1% increase (378,600 visits), with Australia and New Zealand growing by over 10%;
• Great Britain registered a decrease of 3.6% (2.77 million visits).
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring added that: ‘According to Fáilte Ireland, confidence in the Irish tourist industry for the year ahead is at its highest level in recent years. I know our strong programme of national and local Gathering events will entice large numbers of visitors from all around the globe to visit’.