16.6% increase in overseas visits sees tourism enjoying strong first quarter – Donohoe & Ring

27th April, 2016

CSO data released today (Wednesday) shows that the number of overseas visits to Ireland between January – March 2016 increased by 16.6% compared to the corresponding period in 2015.


Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, welcomed the positive data saying: ‘Today’s data for the first quarter of 2016 shows continued strong growth in our overseas visit numbers which is welcome. Of course, the fact that Easter fell in March this year, along with the associated 1916 commemorative events, provided an added boost to these first quarter figures. Nevertheless, the information from the CSO confirms that 2016 has gotten off to a very good start and we are on track for another excellent year. 2015 was a record year for visitor numbers and the fifth consecutive year of growth. We are aiming to build on this strong performance. That is why earlier this year, Minister Ring and I published our Tourism Action Plan, which sets out the priority actions in the period to 2018. Undoubtedly we will face some challenges in the future. In particular we must remain competitive and never lose sight of the need to provide value for money.  I am confident, however, that all of the fundamentals are in place to see the continued sustainable growth of Irish tourism in the years ahead’.


Comparing the three-month period Jan ‘16 – Mar ‘16 with the period Jan ’15 – Mar ‘15:

  • Overall visits to Ireland were up by 16.6% to 1.785 million visits;
  • North America was up by 24.5%;
  • Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 14.1%;
  • Great Britain registered an increase of 17.3%;
  • Visits from the rest of the world increased by 8%.


Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring TD, added: ‘I welcome the publication of further positive data concerning our tourism performance. With all our main markets performing well we look set to have a further year of growth in both visitor numbers and revenue. I know our tourism industry is always seeking to innovate and continually improve the visitor experience. I have been particularly impressed with how the industry has embraced the three tourism experience brands; the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East and Dublin – A Breath of Fresh Air’.


Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: ‘Today’s figures represent an excellent start to the year, as we roll out our promotional programme around the world. It was the best ever March and the best ever first quarter for Irish tourism. I am really pleased to see overseas visitor numbers up +16.6% – that’s a quarter of a million additional visitors when compared with the first quarter of 2015. I welcome the strong increase in visitors from Britain (+17%), our largest market for overseas tourism. Mainland Europe has also performed extremely well (+14%), with important markets like France (+12%), Germany (+21%), Spain (+13%), Benelux (+31%) and the Nordic countries (+24%) turning in stellar performances. And it’s another record first quarter for visitor numbers from North America, up +24.5% on the same three-month period in 2015. Ireland now welcomes 10% of all American visitors to Europe – particularly noteworthy given the intense competition from other destinations. It’s also been another record first quarter for our longer-haul markets, up +8%. These figures very much reflect the sentiment expressed by our tourism industry partners overseas, including tour operators and carriers, as well as tourism businesses here at home. Our focus now is on surpassing last year’s success, to ensure that 2016 is another record-breaking year for overseas tourism. Promoting the Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route continues to be a major focus for Tourism Ireland. We are also showcasing Ireland’s Ancient East and Dublin ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’.


Welcoming today’s first quarter figures, Fáilte Ireland CEO, Shaun Quinn said: ‘Today’s figures signal a continued strong performance by the tourism sector, reflecting a very successful St Patrick’s Festival and perhaps flattered by an earlier Easter.  These trends, along with current confidence levels within the sector, indicate a strong summer season ahead but we must keep competitive and avoid complacency to maintain current growth rates’.