Tourism body expecting record year for revenue in 2018

Diversification away from British market in run up to Brexit yielding results, says chief execlutive

Rossnowlagh strand in Co Donegal is a popular destination for tourists from Northern Ireland and further afield. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Rossnowlagh strand in Co Donegal is a popular destination for tourists from Northern Ireland and further afield. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

Tourism revenues in Ireland are on course to reach €6 billion in revenue this year following a strong finish to 2017.

Tourism earnings in the last quarter rose to over €1 billion, an increase of 12.5 per cent on last year, according to the latest figures produced by the Central Statistics Office.

The increase in the number of visitors was less than half that at 6.2 per cent.

Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said the figures indicate that visitors to Ireland are staying longer and spending more money.

He maintained Tourism Ireland’s diversification strategy away from the British market, which began before Brexit, is yielding results.

“We put bigger emphasis on North America and mainland Europe where the average length of stay is about eight to nine days compared to Britain which is 4½,” he said.

The number of overseas trips to Ireland in the last quarter increased from 2,139 million in 2016 to 2.281 million in 2017.

However, the number of nights spent in Ireland by overseas travellers increased by 13.4 per cent in the last quarter up from 13.8 million in 2016 to 15.6 million last year.

Expenditure

Total tourism and travel earnings from overseas travellers to Ireland increased by 10.9 per cent between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2017, increasing from €1,242 million to €1,377 million.

When fares are excluded, total expenditure increased from €930 million to €1,046 million in the same time frame – the first time overseas tourism revenues in the last quarter has exceeded €1 billion.

Mr Gibbons said Tourism Ireland is forecasting a 5 per cent rise in revenue numbers from €5.8 billion to €6.1 billion in 2018 for the whole of Ireland.

He said an extra 10,000 seats a week on Ryanair flights to and from Germany and 60,000 seats on flight every week during the summer to and from the US and Canada will boost overseas visitor numbers in 2018.

Strong growth in continental and European markets has been somewhat offset by a year on year 4.6 per cent decline in visitor numbers from Britain, which is the biggest market for Irish tourism.

Numbers have continued to decline because of the post-Brexit weakness in sterling which has made Ireland a more expensive country to visit.

Mr Gibbons said in 2018 that Tourism Ireland will be targeting the “culturally curious” market in the UK who are less swayed by currency fluctuations.