The tourism year has got off to a strong start and the positive impact from The Gathering in 2013 is still being felt, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said following publication of the latest CSO visitor figures.
The figures show that the number of overseas visitors between November 2013 and January 2014 increased by 8.2% compared to the corresponding period of 2012/2013.
“Last year was the best for tourism since 2008, with visitor numbers growing by 7.2%. This year we want to build on that success and have set challenging targets to grow visitor numbers by another 4% this year and revenue by 8%. So I’m very pleased to see 2014 get off to such a strong start,” Minister Varadkar said.
“There was particularly strong growth from North America, Britain and long-haul markets while Mainland Europe also experienced growth. The cut in the Air Travel Tax to zero comes into effect in April and more than 24 new routes will start this year. This increased capacity should help us to grow visitor numbers further.”
Comparing the three-month period Nov ‘13 – Jan ‘14 with the period Nov ’12 – Jan’13:
• Overall trips to Ireland were up by 8.2%;
• North America was up by 14.8%;
• Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 1.6%, with Germany (+18.6%) Benelux countries (+9.1%) and Spain (+10.0%) performing particularly well;
• Visits from the rest of the world increased by 28.5%;
• Great Britain registered an increase of 8.5% in visits.
Ireland will be extensively promoted around the world at St Patrick’s Day parades and festivals along with the ‘greening’ of famous landmarks and iconic sites. Other key events taking place during the year such as the ‘Big Start’ of the Giro D’Italia in Ireland, and the Croke Park Classic American Football game, should bring additional visitors.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring added: “A lot of the festivals and events which were organised by communities up and down the country for The Gathering are being repeated this year. I also want to thank all the volunteers and members of Community Employment and Tús Schemes who have put in huge efforts to tidy their towns and villages. It’s thanks to all these people that so many visitors will be returning to Ireland in 2014.”
“This week I am also launching Ireland’s first long-distance touring route, the Wild Atlantic Way. This will be the longest driving route in the world and stretches for 2,500 km from the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal to Kinsale in Co. Cork. This is already proving a hit in Germany and should drive more touring visitors to Ireland, particularly to the regions,” Minister Ring added.
Shaun Quinn CEO of Fáilte Ireland stated: “Tourism is certainly on the up and this is good news for increased revenues and job creation all around the country, particularly in many rural communities where tourism is the mainstay of the local economy. This year, we are revamping tourism in Dublin, rolling out the Wild Atlantic Way in the west, developing attractions in the east and south and building on the legacy of The Gathering. All of this will help us continue the very positive momentum we’ve experienced in the last year or so.”