Varadkar welcomes sustained visitor growth as Gathering picks up pace

Visitor numbers continued to grow this year with the CSO showing a 4% increase in trips to Ireland between February and April, and strong showings from Europe and North America, compared to the same three months last year.

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said the figures show that the Gathering 2013 is clearly picking up pace.

“The strong growth at the start of the year has continued into the second quarter. This is very encouraging as we enter our main tourist season. Visitor numbers from mainland Europe performed particularly well, showing the strongest performance since 2007, while North America generated the highest number of arrivals in over a decade,” Minister Varadkar said.

Comparing the three months from February to April 2013 with the same period in 2012:
• At almost 1.46 million visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 4.0%;
• Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 8.8% (541,500 visits) – the strongest European performance for this 3-month period since 2007:
o France (+20%),
o the Nordic countries (+15%),
o and Benelux (+9%);
• There were 207,300 visits from North America – up by 16.2% and the strongest February-April performance from this market in over a decade;
• Great Britain registered a decrease of 2.2%, with 638,600 visits;
• Visits from the rest of the world decreased by 2.8% to 70,000 visits, although Australia and New Zealand grew by 4.3%.

Minister Varadkar said the difficult conditions in Britain show the need to take a medium-term approach to this market to build business, an issue which is being addressed by the Tourism Recovery Taskforce.

“There is a real buzz around Irish tourism for the Gathering, which bodes very well for the months ahead and for the year as a whole,” he said.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring said word is spreading about the good value for money available in Ireland, as well as the warm welcome, stunning scenery and exciting events and activities.

“This value message is being further reinforced for our overseas visitors through Tourism Ireland’s new ‘Gathering Gestures’ app, which is available for tourists to download. Overseas visitors can use this app to avail of special offers and complementary add-ons, to ensure our international visitors get even more from their holiday in Ireland this year,” he said.

“We are now entering our main tourist season and the busiest months for events around the country. All our tourists, whether from Ireland or overseas, have a lot to look forward to over the summer months. It all kicks off this week with fantastic festivals like Listowel Writers Week in Kerry, the Bloom gardening and horticultural festival in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, and the Sky Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in Kilkenny.”