Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar TD has welcomed the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office for overseas visits to Ireland and predicted a further boost after the travel tax falls to €0 next week.
The number of visits to Ireland for the period December 2013 to February 2014 increased by 11.3% compared to the corresponding period 12 months ago.
Minister Varadkar said: “In terms of our overseas visitors, these figures suggest that the positive momentum generated by The Gathering in 2013 is being maintained into 2014. I was particularly pleased with the strong numbers from our most important markets like Great Britain, which is up 14.1%, North America, which is up 16.7%, and Germany, which is up 6.3%. Fortunately trade and industry sentiment in relation to 2014 is generally positive and I am confident that we can achieve our target of growing overseas visits by another 4% this year.
“While this growth in visit numbers is welcome, we still have to fight hard for Ireland’s share of global tourism spend. St Patrick’s day traditionally marks the start of our overseas marketing efforts and the Greening of overseas and domestic landmarks was again very successful in terms of generating positive publicity for Ireland. Of course next week sees the reduction in the air travel tax to zero coming into effect. This initiative has already resulted in a number of carriers adding new routes into Ireland and will also help in terms of our competitiveness as a tourist destination.”
Comparing the 3-month period of Dec ’12 – Feb ’13 with the period Dec ’13 – Feb ’14:
• Overall trips to Ireland were up by 11.3%;
• Great Britain was up by 14.1%;
• Mainland Europe was up by 3.5%;
• North America was up by 16.7%;
• Visits from the rest of the world increased by 20.6%.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring added: “The figures published today are again very encouraging. While it was always going to be challenging to follow the success of the Gathering, initiatives like the Wild Atlantic Way which I launched recently can help us to continue to grow Irish tourism, it has massive potential to bring more visitors and more jobs to rural communities right along the western seaboard. In addition, Fáilte Ireland will be holding the annual Meitheal event in the coming fortnight which will provide an opportunity for Irish tourism providers to meet overseas tour operators with a view to bringing future tourism business to Ireland.”
Welcoming today’s CSO figures, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “I am delighted to see an increase in overseas visitor numbers of +11% for the three-month period December 2013 to February 2014, with growth recorded from all of our market areas around the world. I particularly welcome the growth of +14% from Britain for that three-month period. Today’s figures represent a very positive start to 2014, as we roll out our promotional programme around the world. Our promotions received a tremendous boost earlier this month, with our Global Greening initiative for St Patrick’s Day – which was even bigger and better than ever before, truly capturing the imagination of people everywhere. St Patrick’s Day traditionally marks the real start of the tourism season for us and we took every opportunity to capitalise on Ireland’s heightened profile. As we look to the year ahead, we aim to keep the momentum going and build on the success of 2013. This year, we will place a major focus on promoting the Wild Atlantic Way, as well as on major events like Limerick City of Culture, the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia and the Croke Park Classic, when the University of Central Florida takes on Penn State in their college football season opener. We will also build on the legacy of the Gathering, continuing to reach out to the Diaspora across the world.”
Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn emphasised the growth in the British market in particular, saying: “We very much welcome the continued strong recovery across all our core markets especially in Britain where our new targeted marketing strategy appears to be bearing fruit.”