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7.2% increase in overseas visits to Ireland for November 2016 to January 2017 Period

Published: 27th February 2017

2016 was a record year for overseas visitors to Ireland and figures released today show that the positive trend has continued into 2017. CSO data shows that the number of overseas visits between November 2016 and January 2017 increased by 7.2% compared to the

corresponding period of 2015/2016.

Commenting on the CSO data, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Shane Ross T.D. stated:“Following on from a record year for tourism in 2016, the figures published today show that 2017 has begun on a positive note. It is encouraging that growth in the North American market remains strong with an increase of 30.8% compared to the corresponding quarter last year. Last week Norwegian Air International announced their plans to launch low-cost transatlantic services from Cork, Shannon and Dublin this summer, which will contribute further to tourism growth from North America.

The upcoming St Patrick’s festivities will give us an opportunity to showcase Ireland and we are undertaking marketing campaigns in all our key markets. Tourism Ireland have organise a host of famous landmarks and iconic sites across the world to participate in the Global Greening initiative again this year, this has grown to become a significant worldwide reminder of both St. Patrick’s Day itself and of Ireland’s appeal as a visitor destination.”

Comparing the three-month period Nov ‘16 – Jan ‘17 with the period Nov ’15 – Jan’16:

  • Overall trips to Ireland were up by 7.2%;
  • Visits from North America were up by 30.8%;
  • Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 2.3%;
  • Visits from the rest of the world (long-haul) increased by 11.4%;
  • Great Britain registered an increase of 3.3% in visits.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan T.D. added: “I welcome the publication of the employment numbers from the CSO last week which provides further evidence that our tourism industry continues to contribute to the Irish economy. In the last quarter of 2016, employment in the ‘Accommodation and Food Service Activities’ sector stood at 148,300 which represents an increase of 3.1% compared to the corresponding period in 2015. Overall employment for the tourism industry currently stands at 220,000 and we will continue to work towards our target laid out in the Tourism Policy Statement to have 250,000 employed in the tourism sector by 2025”.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland stated: “Today’s figures represent a very positive start to 2017, as we roll out our promotional programme around the world. I am very pleased to see an increase in overseas visitor numbers of +7.2% between November 2016 and January 2017, about 126,400 additional visitors when compared with the same three-month period last year. I am delighted to report that growth was recorded from all of our markets around the world – with exceptional results from North America (+30.8% on 2016). Ireland now welcomes 10% of all American visitors to Europe – particularly noteworthy given the intense competition from other destinations. We have also seen continued growth from Britain (+3.3%), Mainland Europe (+2.3%) and our long-haul markets (+11.4%). And, it is particularly encouraging that we’ve seen +8.3% growth in overseas visitors in the month of January alone. Our focus now is on the year ahead. Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue in 2017 by +4.5%, to €5.7 billion, for the island of Ireland. Our promotions will receive a tremendous boost next month, with our Global Greening initiative for St Patrick’s Day set to be even bigger and better than ever before. St Patrick’s Day traditionally marks the real start of the tourism season for us and we will be taking every opportunity to capitalise on Ireland’s heightened profile.”

Paul Kelly, the CEO of Fáilte Ireland stated: “Today’s figures are very welcome and reflect ongoing growth for the tourism sector. We need to work hard to maintain this positive momentum particularly in the light of the recent weakening of Sterling relative to the Euro. It is important that we continue to invest in our visitor experiences to ensure that Ireland remains a compelling and attractive destination for overseas visitors”

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