Overseas visits to Ireland up more than 7% in first quarter of 2013

CSO figures show trips overseas by Irish residents down slightly on previous year

Tourists enjoy the Viking Splash tour in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Tourists enjoy the Viking Splash tour in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Fri, Jun 21, 2013, 01:00

ELAINE EDWARDS

The number of overseas visits to Ireland increased by 7.3 per cent in the first quarter of this year and spending was up by nearly 11 per cent, new figures show.

Tourism and travel figures published by the Central Statistics Office show there were 1,252 million trips to Ireland in the first three months of 2013, bup from 1,167 million in the same period the previous year.

Holiday trips alone were up by just over 19 per cent to 433,000 - a jump hailed by Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar as a success for The Gathering tourism initiative.

There were 410,000 visits to family and friends - up by 8.8 per cent compared to the first quarter of last year.

“Early indications suggest that The Gathering is working well and is having a real effect on people’s interest in coming to Ireland,” Mr Varadkar said.

“ The important thing now is to keep up the good work across the tourism agencies, the industry and in local communities.”

Fáilte Ireland said the figures were a good indication that The Gathering was having an impact in those markets it was geared towards.

Chief executive Shaun Quinn said that looking at the first quarter figures for overseas, it was clearthere had been “a significant turnaround”, particularly in North America and Europe.

Bed nights spent in rented houses and apartments were up 16.4 per cent, while nights spent in guest houses and B&Bs were up 11.9 per cent.

The number of hotel bed nights was up by 7 per cent.

Some €688 million was spent by overseas travellers in Ireland in the first quarter, up by 10.8 per cent on quarter one 2012.

Trips by Irish residents overseas fell by 2.1 per cent in the first quarter to 1,209 million. Spending by Irish people travelling abroad was also down slightly – dropping by 0.9 per cent to €828 million in the first quarter.

Separately, CSO figures for household travel for 2012 show the number of overseas trips taken by Irish residents last year was down slightly to 6.6 million from just over 6.5 million in 2011.

The vast majority (86 per cent) of the trips abroad last year were to EU countries.

There were 5,673 million trips to EU countries, up from 5,563 million the previous year. to North America, however, dropped by nearly 10 per cent to 370,000 in 2012 from 410,000 the year before.

Visits to Asia were up by nearly 30 per cent from 127,000 to 165,000.

Holidays accounted for 56.7 per cent of all trips away last year, with 23.9 per cent for the purpose of visiting friends or relatives.

Irish residents spent €5,345.2 million on outbound trips, of which €3,302.1 million was spent on holidays. Spending in this category was up by 4.9 per cent on 2011.

Spending on business trips at €589.7 million was down some 20.8 per cent on the previous year, however.

Within the EU, the UK remains the most popular destination. More than 1.8 million trips were made to Britain by Irish residents, down slightly on the year before.

Some 430,000 trips were made to Northern Ireland, an increase of 16 per cent.

Spain was the next most visited country within the EU, with some 1,407 million visits by Irish residents.

Over seven million domestic trips were made by Irish residents last year, with an average duration of 2.9 nights.