2014 on target to be another year of growth in tourism – Varadkar

Options-7

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has welcomed strong growth in the number of overseas visitors and those coming to Ireland for holiday purposes in the first three months of the year, as revealed in today’s CSO figures.

“2014 looks set to be the fourth year of consecutive growth in overseas visitor numbers according to these figures. Since the Government came to office, the number of international visitors coming to Ireland has increased by more than a million per annum and is almost certain to exceed 7 million this year. Clever overseas marketing, more air access, good value, a great tourism offering and Government support are all making a real difference,” Minister Varadkar said.

The CSO tourism & travel statistics show that the number of trips to Ireland in the key target market of holidaymakers rose by 7.5% in the first quarter of 2014, when compared with the same period in 2013. Although spending by overseas visitors remained more or less flat when compared to 2013, this may reflect the fact that Easter fell in the second quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2013.

“The Government recognised early on that tourism could play a key part in economic recovery and moved quickly to get the sector back on its feet with targeted initiatives like the 9% VAT rate. While it was always going to be challenging to match the excellent performance in 2013 from The Gathering, we have actually managed to further grow the number of visitors this year,” Minister Varadkar added.

The figures confirm strong growth in the number of holiday trips taken by overseas visitors to Ireland, and an increase in visits to friends and relatives. All markets have shown increased numbers of visits in the first quarter. Comparing Quarter 1 2014 to Quarter 1 2013:

• Total number of visits from Great Britain grew by 11.4%;
• Total number of visits from North America grew by 5.9%;
• Total number of visits from Mainland Europe grew by 0.9%;
• Total number of visits from “Other” long-haul markets grew by 17.4%.

The figures are based on detailed surveys of overseas visitors and contain detailed information on expenditure, purpose of visit, and bednights.

Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring added: “The fact that the numbers coming to Ireland for holiday purposes continues to rise is very encouraging. Events such as the recent Giro D’Italia and the Croke Park American Football Classic later this year will help to further promote Ireland, and will build on these positive visitor numbers. We can never be complacent, but these figures certainly suggest that Ireland can enter the peak tourism season with justified optimism.”

Commenting on today’s CSO figures for the first quarter of 2014, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s CSO figures confirm that Holidaymakers from overseas grew by +8% in the first quarter of 2014, with growth recorded from all of our market areas around the world. I am particularly pleased to see Holidaymakers from the Great Britain market showing growth of +27%.”

Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn said: “Today’s Q1 data indicate that Ireland is continuing to attract more overseas visitors and that we are growing these numbers beyond last year’s ‘Gathering’ bounce across all our key markets. We in Fáilte Ireland are bolstering our efforts to help sustain this momentum. The key challenge to tourism growth right now is complacency and we need to work hard to maintain that balance of good value and quality which the sector has achieved in recent years.”

Niall Gibbons of Tourism Ireland added: “While it is still very early days – the first quarter represents only 18% of total overseas business with Easter falling later this year than last– this is a strong start to the year and reflects the sentiment we are hearing from our tourism industry partners in the Markets and here at home on the island of Ireland. It augurs well for 2014 as a whole and Tourism Ireland and our industry partners are rolling out a busy promotional programme around the world to keep that 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 and Titanic as well as on major events like Limerick City of Culture and the Croke Park Classic. We will also build on the legacy of the Gathering, continuing to reach out to the Diaspora across the world,” Mr Gibbons said.