Visitor numbers up 1M a year under this Govt – Varadkar

Air Travel Tax falls to €0 Varadkar Tourism Irl-8

Tourism gets off to a strong start in 2014 with 7.3% increase

Since the new Government came to office in 2011 the number of overseas visits has increased from 6 million to 7 million and we aim to exceed 7.5 million by 2016, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said following the latest CSO tourism figures. The revenue associated with these overseas visits, excluding fares, rose by 9.6% between 2010 and 2013.

The new figures show that overseas visitors to Ireland increased by 7.3% in the first three months of the year. More than 1.34 million overseas visitors came to Ireland in the first quarter of 2014 (an increase of 7.3% compared to Q1- 2013).

“According to these CSO figures, we look set to meet our target of 4% more visitors to Ireland and 8% more tourism revenue this year. And since the general election, we have increased visitor numbers by more than 1 million a year,” Minister Varadkar said.

“This year has got off to a very strong start for overseas visitors which shows that the Government’s pro-tourism policies are continuing to work. Even the late Easter this year has not dented the figures. The data suggests we are on target to grow visitor numbers again in 2014, and build on success of The Gathering. I’m especially pleased to see the strong performance from developing markets. During my visit to China in the last week I saw at first hand the tremendous potential to grow these markets further, and I’m delighted at Tourism Ireland’s survey of Chinese tourists showing that Ireland scores high for beautiful landscape and scenery.”

Comparing the 3-month period of Q1 2014 with the period Q1 2013:
• Overall trips to Ireland were up by 7.3%;
• Great Britain was up by 11.5%;
• Mainland Europe was up by 0.8% with Germany +13.5%, Spain +15.5% and Italy +13.1% all performing well;
• North America was up by +6%;
• Visits from the rest of the world increased by 17.5%.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring added: “I am delighted with the figures published today and while it was always going to be challenging to follow the success of The Gathering, initiatives like the Wild Atlantic Way can help us to continue to grow tourism to Ireland. It has massive potential to bring more visitors and more jobs to rural communities right along the western seaboard. I was in Texas last week and the reaction to the Wild Atlantic Way was very positive. The feedback from the Tour Operators I met was very optimistic in terms of our prospects for another excellent year for visitors from North America.”

Welcoming the figures, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “I am delighted to see an increase in overseas visitor numbers of +7% for the three-month period January-March 2014, with growth recorded from all of our market areas around the world. I particularly welcome the increase in British visitor numbers of +11% for the first quarter. It is also very encouraging to see growth from other important tourism markets – including North America (+6%), Germany (+13%), Italy (+13%), Spain (+16%), as well as from Australia and developing markets (+17%). This reflects the sentiment expressed by our tourism industry partners, including tour operators and carriers, as well as tourism businesses here at home.

“Today’s figures represent a very positive start to 2014, as we roll out our promotional programme around the world to keep the momentum going and build on the success of 2013. This year, we are placing a major focus on promoting the Wild Atlantic Way, the Causeway Coastal Route, 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 added: “Today’s figures signal another great year for tourism in terms of both visitors and revenue. Despite fears that last year’s ‘Gathering’ might prove to be a temporary bounce, tourism is actually growing beyond that impressive performance. Fáilte Ireland will be doing its bit to sustain this momentum with a big focus this year on our Wild Atlantic way initiative. Importantly for many rural communities throughout Ireland, continuing growth in the tourism sector should translate into additional jobs and revenue within local economies.”