Fall in visitor numbers to Ireland
The number of visitors to Ireland fell by 1.2 per cent in the first three months of 2012, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office.
The total number of trips to Ireland was down 13,700 to 1,165,100 compared to the same three-month period a year earlier.
Visitors from Britain rose by 2.1 per cent to 562,400 from 550,700 but trips by North American residents were down 6.5 per cent from 154,700 to 144,700.
Visits from other European countries decreased by 3.7 per cent from 407,800 to 392,800 while trips from visitors from the rest of the world fell by 0.6 per cent to 65,200.
The number of overseas trips made by Irish residents was down by 2.5 per cent to
1,234,800, compared to 1,266,400 a year earlier and 1,439,200 for the same three-month period in 2010.
According to the data, the total number of trips to and from Ireland in the first quarter declined by 1.9 per cent to 2,399,900 versus January to March 2011.
On an annual basis the number of trips to and from Ireland was down by 3.1 per cent.
Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar said he was confident that 2012 would be a good year for Irish tourism despite the disappointing first quarter figures.
"It is encouraging that the number of visits from our most important market, Great Britain, continues to grow. However, the figures demonstrate the challenges we continue to face to build on the return to growth in 2011, given economic uncertainties in many key markets and upward trends in the price of oil," he said.
Mr Varadkar said that while the number of visitors to Ireland had fallen the fact that airlines would have more capacity on flights here this summer would likely have a positive effect on tourism figures.
Tourism Ireland said the figures were in line with expectations.
"The global economic landscape of recent months has certainly presented a challenging environment for travel and tourism and that is reflected in the CSO figures which show a drop of -1 per cent for that three-month period," said the organisation's chief executive Niall Gibbons.
"However, our tourism industry and travel trade partners are generally more positive about the months ahead – particularly for quarters two and three – with reports of enquiries and advance bookings being well up on this time last year," he added.