Irish tourism enjoyed its ‘best year ever’ in 2016

Tourism Ireland says sector is set to perform even better in 2017 despite Brexit threat

 Tourists walk around Dublin city. Ireland’s tourism sector enjoyed a record year in 2016, according to Tourism Ireland. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Tourists walk around Dublin city. Ireland’s tourism sector enjoyed a record year in 2016, according to Tourism Ireland. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Ireland’s tourism sector enjoyed a record year in 2016, and is set to perform even better in 2017, according to Tourism Ireland.

The latest estimates show that 10.5 million people will have visited Ireland by the end of 2016, bringing tourism-related revenues to an annual total of €5.4 billion.

The number of visitors is up from about 9 million in 2015.

However, the figure is expected to increase further in 2017, with tourism-related revenues projected to rise by 4.5 per cent to €5.7 billion, delegates at a tourism conference in Dublin were told on Monday.

Brexit uncertainty

The figures come against a backdrop of uncertainty in the sector, given the threats posed by Brexit.

Minister for Tourism Shane Ross accepted that the UK’s departure from the EU will make it difficult to maintain visitor numbers from Ireland’s largest tourist market in future.

“We know that the result of the UK referendum on EU membership may bring challenges for tourism in 2017.

“Therefore, it will be more important than ever that Ireland stands out as a top tourist destination in our key overseas markets,” he told the conference.

Commenting on the figures, Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said: “2016 will be the best year ever for Irish tourism, surpassing all previous records and coming on the back of a number of years of strong growth . . .We are heading into 2017 in a position of some strength, based on the success of 2016.”

Tourism Ireland told the conference it intends to target audiences in North America and mainland Europe with marketing campaigns next year.