Number of trips to Ireland from abroad increased by 2.7%


TOURISM AND industry bodies yesterday welcomed the news that the total number of trips to Ireland from overseas increased by 2.7 per cent in the three months to February.

Some 1,145,900 trips were made to Ireland – an increase of 30,600 on the same period last year.

The Central Statistics Office yesterday published figures for overseas travel for the three months from December 2011.

Overall, trips to Ireland were up by 2.7 per cent in the quarter, compared to a drop of 0.8 per cent for the same three months last year when compared to the previous year.

Trips from Britain alone were up by 6.6 per cent to 577,600 in the three months to February, compared to a decline of just under 1 per cent in the 2010/2011 period.

In the same three months the year before that, trips from Britain fell by 24 per cent.

The number of visitors from North America decreased by 4.3 per cent to 128,900, and the number from other areas was down by 4.7 per cent.

Trips by Irish residents (trips abroad in addition to trips within Ireland) in the three months to February increased by 0.5 per cent to 2,289,300.

Total trips by Irish residents in the same three-month period last year showed a drop of some 6.5 per cent on the same period in 2009/2010.

Chief executive of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons welcomed the figures, saying they were a “positive start” to 2012.

He particularly welcomed the increase in visitors from Britain, which he described as our largest and most important market, delivering about 45 per cent of all our overseas visitors.

“We anticipate that growth in overseas visitors numbers for the first quarter of this year will be slow; however, overall sentiment and anecdotal feedback from tour operators and travel trade contacts in our key markets, as well as from people working in the tourism industry around Ireland, is cautiously optimistic – particularly for quarters two and three of 2012,” Mr Gibbons said.

Chief executive of Dublin Chamber Gina Quin said the figures were “encouraging” and it was important that this momentum continued.

“The decision by Government last year to create a new lower rate of VAT at 9 per cent was particularly important for the tourism sector, which has been significantly impacted out of the global recession,” she said.