2015; A Record Breaking Year for Tourism – Donohoe and Ring

27th January, 2016

More than 8.5million overseas visits to Ireland in 2015 – an increase of over 1million on previous year


The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, and the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring TD, today (Wednesday) welcomed the publication of official data on overseas travel for 2015 from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which showed an increase of over 1 million (+13.7%) overseas visits to Ireland for  2015 compared to 2014. There were 8,643,100 visits to Ireland in 2015.


Commenting on the tourism figures, Minister Donohoe said: “The figures published by the CSO today confirm that 2015 was a record breaking year for the Irish tourism industry and the fifth consecutive year of growth. To increase our overseas numbers by a further 13.7% is a great tribute to everybody involved in Irish tourism. It is encouraging that we are seeing strong growth from all of our source market areas. In 2016, we will be doing all we can to surpass this performance.”


Today’s CSO figures on Overseas Travel show:

  • At over 8.643 million visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 13.7% in 2015 compared to 2014.
  • Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 15.4% in 2015, to 3,043,400 visits
  • North America registered an increase of 14.0% for 2015 (1,514,200 visits)
  • Visits from Great Britain were up by 12.1% for 2015 (3,546,900 visits)
  • Visits from the rest of the world (mostly long-haul and developing markets) totalled 538,600 for 2015 (representing an increase of 13.7%).


Minister Donohoe added: These unprecedented visitor numbers emphasise the vital role that overseas tourism is playing in our economic recovery with overall employment in tourism estimated to be in the region of 205,000. I believe tourism will also have a strong role in keeping that recovery going. Tomorrow, Minister Ring and I will be publishing a Tourism Action Plan that will set out the priority actions required to achieve our longer-term targets for 2025 of €5 billion in overseas tourism revenue (excluding air fares or ferry costs), 250,000 jobs in the tourism sector, underpinned by ten million overseas visits per year’.


Minister of State, Michael Ring, stated: ‘Since taking office, the Government introduced a range of measures to support the hard work of our tourism sector, boost employment and enhance competitiveness and our marketing drive overseas.  Measures included reducing the rate of the Air Travel Tax to zero, retaining the reduction of VAT at 9% on tourism-related services and the Gathering initiative in 2013. The measures have clearly worked. The previous record year for Irish tourism was 2007 and we surpassed that total by over 630,000 visits in 2015’.


Commenting on the CSO Overseas Travel figures, Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said: ‘Today’s figures confirm that 2015 was a record-breaking year for overseas tourism, with more than 8.6 million people arriving here – an increase of 13.7%, or more than 1 million additional overseas visitors, when compared to 2014. I am delighted to report that growth was recorded from all of our markets around the world, with record numbers arriving here from North America (+14% on 2014). Ireland now welcomes 10% of all American visitors to Europe – particularly noteworthy given the intense competition from other destinations. We have also seen record numbers arriving here from Mainland Europe (+15%), with double-digit growth from all key markets, including Germany, France, Italy, Benelux and the Nordic countries. Our long-haul markets like Australia, China and India have also performed strongly(13.7%); and I welcome the continued strong performance from Britain (+12%), our largest market for overseas tourism. Our focus now is on the year ahead. We aim to surpass the success of 2015 and keep the momentum going, to ensure that 2016 is another record-breaking year for overseas tourism‘.


Meanwhile, Shaun Quinn, Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland commented:With double digit growth in all key markets, 2015 was a better than expected year for tourism but we mustn’t let success breed complacency. Fluctuations in currency markets and international incidents can create sudden and significant impacts on world travel which could change the current upbeat narrative very quickly‘.

“For that reason, the tourism industry must continue its focus on maintaining competitiveness in terms of value and quality throughout 2016. For our part, we in, Fáilte Ireland will be focusing on regionality and seasonality – aiming for greater visitor numbers beyond the usual hotspots and growing activity outside of the summer season.  In other words, we will be working to ensure that we have sustained tourism growth throughout the country and throughout the year.”