Spending by overseas visitors up 13.3% so far in 2013 to €2.6BN – Varadkar

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Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has welcomed CSO figures showing that spending by overseas visitors for the first nine months of the year rose by 13.3% to €2.6 billion, with a particularly strong increase in spending by holidaymakers.

“2013 was the year in which Ireland’s tourism grew strongly thanks to a combination of The Gathering, more air access, good value and great tourism offerings,” Minister Varadkar said.

The detailed figures from the CSO show that spending in Ireland by overseas visitors for the first nine months of the year, excluding travel fares, rose by 13.3% compared with the corresponding period of 2012. Growth in spending was recorded in all three types of traveller targeted by The Gathering – business travellers, holidaymakers, and family visits.

There was a particularly strong showing for holidaymakers, with spending by this group up 14.8% for the first nine months, and a 7.6% increase in the number of pure holiday trips to Ireland.

“All of the statistics published to date show that The Gathering has achieved its primary purpose of growing the number of overseas visitors this year. This shows the enormous economic contribution associated with overseas visits. Total expenditure excluding fares in the nine month period amounted to €2,597 million which is a highly significant contribution to the Irish economy,” Minister Varadkar said.

The figures confirm significant growth in revenues across all main market areas, including the challenging British market. This is supported by the strong growth in the number of holiday trips taken by overseas visitors to Ireland, and an increase in visits to friends and relatives. In terms of the spend associated with overseas visits, all the main markets grew in the first nine months of 2013 compared to 2012:

• Great Britain up by 3.0%;
• North America up by 12.6%;
• Mainland Europe up by 19.3%;
• ‘Other’ long-haul markets up by 22.0%.

The figures are based on detailed surveys of overseas visitors and contain detailed information on expenditure, purpose of visit, and bednights. They come on top of the overseas visitor numbers which are published monthly by the CSO.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland said: “Today’s figures from the CSO show a very welcome increase in overseas tourism earnings of +19.3% for the third quarter of 2013. I am also pleased to see growth of +8% in holidaymakers. This growth has been driven by strong increases in visitor numbers from almost all of our markets worldwide. In fact, we have seen the best performances ever this year from North America, Germany, France, Spain and from our long-haul markets – with Australia and New Zealand in particular driving that growth. Other Mainland European markets, like the Nordic region and the Benelux have also performed well. And the British market has also seen growth in visitor numbers in 2013 which is particularly encouraging.”

Shaun Quinn, CEO of Fáilte Ireland said: “Today’s figures are to be welcomed and this growth is now really driving all sectors of the tourism sector, including accommodation, attractions, and restaurants, as overseas markets are once more delivering for tourism businesses – in particular North America. With The Gathering, recent Government initiatives and improving overseas markets all boosting visitors, employment and revenue, 2013 has certainly been a great year for tourism.”