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Ministers welcome continued strong growth in overseas visits to Ireland

The Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross TD and the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan T.D. today welcomed the latest official data on overseas travel from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which showed an increase of 12.7% in overseas visits to Ireland for the first seven months of 2016 compared to the same period of 2015. 

Commenting on the figures, Minister Ross stated: “Today’s CSO release again demonstrates that Irish tourism is having an excellent year. Yesterday it was shown that the revenue associated with overseas visitors grew by 9.5% in the first half of this year compared with 2015. Today’s release shows that the number of overseas visits to Ireland increased by 12.7% in the first seven months of the year. All of our main markets show strong growth with a particularly strong performance from North America (+15.5%) and Great Britain (+13.9%). Tourism is a vital economic sector for the Irish economy and I will be doing all I can to ensure that investment in tourism remains a priority in the coming years.”

The latest CSO figures on Overseas Travel show:

•          At 5.427 million visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 12.7% in the first seven months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.

•          Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 11.6% for January to July 2016 (1,911,200 visits);

•          North America registered an increase of 15.5% for January – July 2016 (990,100 visits);

•          Visits from Great Britain were up by 13.9% for January – July 2016 (2,224,900 visits).

•          Visits from the rest of the world, mostly long-haul and developing markets, were up by 3% totalling 300,800 visits.

Minister O’Donovan TD added: “The figures published today confirm that 2016 is on target to be another great year for Irish tourism. Almost five and a half million visitors came to Ireland during the first seven months of the year, which is an increase of 12.7% compared to the same period in 2015. While our main peak season is now over and children are returning to school, we still have many exciting festivals and events to look forward to in the coming weeks. I know that our overseas marketing efforts will be continuing to ensure that 2016 surpasses all previous records in terms of overseas visits.”         

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures indicate that this was the best ever month of July for Irish tourism, with more than 1 million arrivals recorded. It was also the best January to July period for overseas visitors to Ireland, with more than 5.4 million arrivals, representing an increase of almost +13% – 612,400 additional overseas visitors when compared with the first seven months of 2015. Our aim is to ensure that 2016 is another record-breaking year for Irish tourism. We have seen exceptional results from North America for January to July – up +15.5% on the same seven-month period in 2015. I also welcome the strong increase in British visitors (almost +14%). Mainland Europe has also turned in a superb performance (+11.6%), with important markets like Italy, Spain, France and the Benelux countries all showing really good growth. This was a strong performance and reflects the sentiment we are hearing from our travel partners overseas, including tour operators and carriers, as well as tourism businesses here at home. We are determined to ensure that tourism growth continues. Next week, we will launch our extensive autumn campaign – aimed at boosting late-season travel to Ireland from around the globe and keeping this momentum going. The period September to December traditionally yields as much as 30% of our annual overseas tourism business.”

Shaun Quinn, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, welcoming today’s figures emphasised: “These figures reflect what we have been hearing from tourism businesses on the ground, namely that this summer the sector has enjoyed another impressive season of growth. However, it would be complacent to believe that growth will continue at such high levels – particularly given some of the global unpredictability which exists. We don’t want the current boom to be followed by another bust. In the longer term, sustainable modest growth will be vital for Ireland’s tourism industry and that will be only achievable if we maintain our competitiveness, continue to develop what we have to offer and invest in new and innovative ways to reach and excite visitors.”