Overseas visitors increase 5.4% in first half of year
Tourism Ireland says this year on course to be best ever for visitors from US
Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar at the launch of the Dublin Horse Show. The Minister said the Gathering was succeeding in attracting tourists. Photograph: The Irish Times
The number of people visiting Ireland in the first half of the year increased by 5.4 per cent per cent with tourists from north America up by over 15 per cent, according to the Central Statistics Office.
A total of 3,144,800 people visited Ireland between January and June this year, compared with 2,982,400 for the same period last year.
The figures show visits by people between April and June from other European countries, not including the UK, increased 4.9 per cent while visitors from countries outside of Europe and North America increased by 5.9 per cent.
But visits by British tourists fell by 1.1 per cent from April and June compared to last year, down from 735,200 to 726,900.
The number of North American tourists from April and June grew from 305,700 to 350,800, compared to last year.
The number of Irish people going abroad between April and June is also up by 1.4 per cent to 1,752,400.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said the statistics for the first half of the Gathering year were “very positive”. “So far, it looks like the initiative is persuading people to visit Ireland,” he said.
Tourism Ireland said it was on course “to achieve our best year ever from the United States”.
“In 2013, we hope to welcome over one million American visitors, spending about $1 billion,” said chief executive Niall Gibbons. Plans by Aer Lingus to begin flights from San Francisco and Toronto all year should help boost visitor numbers again next year, he added.
The American football match between University of Central Florida and Penn State to take place in Croke Park in August 2014 to open the season would also attract visitors, he said.
But he acknowledged “Great Britain continues to be challenging” because of the “the pace of economic recovery and weak consumer confidence”.