Visitors to Ireland up 7 per cent in first four months of year

Surge in visitors from North America, but impact of Brexit causes concern

 Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Overseas visitor numbers to Ireland during the first four months of the year increased by 7 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to the latest CSO figures.

There were 2.8 million trips to Ireland between January and April of this year, an increase of around 191,000 on the first four months of 2017.

Visitors from the US and Canada (13.6 per cent), mainland Europe (12 per cent) and Britain (1.1 per cent) are all up over the same period.

The total number of trips to Ireland last month by overseas residents increased by 8 per cent compared to April 2017.

There were 899,000 trips by overseas residents last month, up from 833,300 in April 2017. Trips by residents of Great Britain increased by 3.3 per cent to 322,700 while trips by EU residents (other than Great Britain) increased by 9.5 per cent to 352,900. Trips by residents of the US and Canada to Ireland increased by 14.7 per cent to 178,600.

Tourism Ireland said North America continues to perform extremely well but the impact of Brexit on outbound travel from Britain remains a concern.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland said it has prioritised mainland Europe and North America as markets which offer a strong return on investment in terms of holiday visitors and expenditure.

“The fall in the value in sterling has made holidays and short breaks here more expensive for British visitors and has made Britain more affordable for visitors from many of our top markets,” he said.

“Competitiveness and value for money remain more important than ever in Britain this year.”

New flights

Mr Gibbons said he was looking forward to seeing the impact of new long-haul flights on Irish tourism this summer.

“The new Aer Lingus service from Seattle to Dublin, which began earlier this month, as well as the Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing and the Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong, both due to begin in the coming weeks,” he said.

“In terms of ferry services, there will be an increase in the number of sailings and capacity between mainland Europe and Ireland this year.”

The total number of trips overseas by Irish residents increased by 3.2 per cent in April 2018 compared to 12 months earlier.

Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland said the challenge now is to manage and maintain growth.

“In order to do this, we will need increased investment from both the private and public sector in all areas – from accommodation to visitor attractions and infrastructure,” he said.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross said he was encouraged by the continued strong performance from the North American market and that Ireland’s appeal will be strengthened by the direct flights from Beijing and Hong Kong.