Rise in visitor numbers to Ireland


Ireland’s ailing tourism sector received a boost today with the latest travel figures showing an increase in visitor numbers.

According to the Central Statistics Office, the number of overseas trips to Ireland increased by 1.9 per cent between November and January compared with the same period last year.

The three-month period saw a total of 1,195,400 inward journeys to Ireland from overseas, an increase of 22,800 on the corresponding period 12 months ago.

Visitor numbers from Britain, the State's main tourism market, increased by 4.7 per cent to 508,800 while trips by residents of other European countries rose by 3 per cent to 404,400.

Visitors from North America, however, decreased by 5.4 per cent to 141,900 while visitors from other areas, exclusing North America and Europe, also fell by 9.4 per cent.

Chief executive of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons described the figures as a “positive start” to 2012.

“Despite the global economic landscape of recent months, which continues to present a challenging environment for travel, I am pleased to see growth of almost 2 per cent for the three-month period.”

Mr Gibbons said overall sentiment and anecdotal feedback from tour operators and travel trade contacts in key markets, as well as from people working in the tourism industry around Ireland, was “cautiously optimistic”.

Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar also welcomed the figures, saying he was pleased the year had started off on a “positive note for tourism”.

However, Mr Varadkar said: “Clearly the picture was mixed, with some markets performing better than others.

"A range of factors such as economic confidence, or uncertainty, in many of our source markets is evident in these figures."

The CSO figures also showed the total number of trips made by Irish residents’ trips overseas plus trips to Ireland in the three-month period  increased by 0.2 per cent to 2,364,600 on the same period 12 months ago.

However, there was an annual decrease of 7 per cent in the total number of trips taken when compared to the previous corresponding period.