Mid-year review of overseas tourism figs shows Ireland on track for record year – Donohoe

6th August, 2015

  •     Strong first-half performance of +11.7% growth is springboard for further success
  • Essential, as figures improve, that mistakes of the past are not repeated


Official CSO figures for the first half of 2015 confirm growth of +11.7% in overseas visitors to Ireland- an additional 407,100 visitors when compared with January to June 2014. At today’s mid-year review of overseas tourism for 2015, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, and Tourism Ireland CEO, Niall Gibbons, confirmed that this growth has come from all four market areas around the world (Britain, North America, Mainland Europe and Other Areas). They outlined what has contributed to this success and, more importantly, what will help to sustain and build on the growth to year end and into 2016.


Speaking at the mid-year review of overseas tourism, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, said: ‘This strong tourism performance is taking place within a framework of on-going supportive Government policy, including the 9% VAT rate for tourism-related sectors, and the reduction of the Air Travel Tax to zero, as well as continued support for overseas tourism marketing and investment in tourism infrastructure.  We must now ensure that Ireland’s tourism sector can continue to grow in a way that is sustainable from an economic, social and environmental perspective.  The Government’s Tourism Policy statement includes targets to be achieved by 2025 of €5 billion in overseas tourism revenue, an extra 50,000 jobs in the tourism sector and ten million overseas visits to Ireland, compared to 7.6 million in 2014.  I have recently appointed a Tourism Leadership Group, to put in place a Tourism Action Plan that will set out the actions required in the period up to 2018 so that these overall objectives can be achieved’.


Minister Donohoe continued: ‘As tourism performance improves, however, we must be mindful of the mistakes that were made in the past and ensure that they are not repeated. Our value for money rating has improved dramatically in recent years. A lot of hard work has been done by the tourism industry, Government and our agencies to get us to a place where we have recorded our best half year performance ever. We must now make sure that those efforts have not been in vain and that the strong reputation we have regained internationally is maintained’.


Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: ‘I am delighted to reportgrowth of +11.7% in overseas visitors to Ireland for the first half of 2015, an additional 407,100 visitors when compared with January to June 2014. Our aim is to ensure that 2015 is the best year ever for Irish tourism and we have certainly seen an exceptional performance so far from North America – up almost +15% on the first half in 2014, making it another record year. Ireland now welcomes 10% of all American visitors to Europe, which particularly noteworthy given the intense competition from other destinations’.


“It has also been the best ever first-half performance from Mainland Europe (+13%) – with important markets like Germany (+12%), France (+13%), Spain (+15%) and Italy (+32%) and Benelux (+11%) all recording fantastic growth. And 2015 is also set to be another record year for tourism from our long-haul markets, with growth of +12% recorded for the first six months of this year. I am also particularly pleased to see visitor numbers from Great Britain increasing by +9.4% for the first half of 2015.”


Summary of the first half of the year:

  • CSO figures for the first half of 2015 confirm growth of +11.7% in overseas visitors to Ireland for the first half of 2015, an additional 407,100visitors when compared with January to June 2014.


  • This represents growth from our four market areas around the world:

o   Britain                                      +9.4%

o   North America                      +15%

o   Mainland Europe                  +13%

–      Germany                             +12%

–      France                                  +13%

–      Spain                                    +15%

–      Italy                                      +32%

–      Benelux                                +11%

–      Nordic region                      +5%

o   Other Areas                           +12%


What has contributed to our success?

  • Government initiatives: positive measures introduced by the Government – regarding VAT on tourism services, the air travel tax and the British-Irish Visa Scheme – have helped our industry to address the issue of competitiveness and have made it easier for tourists from a wide range of new and developing markets, including some of the fastest-growing markets like China and India, to include Ireland in their travel plans. This makes Ireland a real contender for this business for the first time.
  • Global campaigns reach 200 million people: Tourism Ireland’s global campaigns will reach an estimated audience of some 200 million prospective visitors worldwide this year.
  • Strong online and social media presence: Tourism Ireland continues to leverage its strength in digital and social media. The organisation is now the fourth most popular tourism board in the world on Facebook (after Australia, the United States and Britain), with 3 million fans; the number two tourism board on Twitter (after Britain); and the number two tourism board on YouTube (after Australia).
  • Air access: the introduction of a number of important new routes from our main markets to Ireland this year has been a significant contributing factor to the growth (e.g new flights include Aer Lingus from Washington DC, United from Chicago, Ethiopian Airlines from Los Angeles, Transavia from Paris, SAS from Gothenburg and Finnair from Helsinki). As an island, direct, convenient and competitive access services are critical to achieving growth in inbound tourism.  Summer 2015 will see an estimated 492,000 direct, one-way air seats available each week, a +9% increase on summer 2014.  This growth is from all market areas and is close to the record level of seats available in the summer of 2008.
  • Positive publicity: each year, Tourism Ireland invites influential travel and lifestyle journalists from around the world to visit the island of Ireland, helping to generate positive publicity about Ireland in the international media worth about €320 million in equivalent advertising value (EAV).


What will sustain and build on the growth?

  • Tourism Ireland is determined to ensure that overseas tourism growth continues. The organisation is undertaking an extensive programme of promotions around the world which includes a focus on the Wild Atlantic Way. Tourism Ireland is also showcasing the new Dublin Discovering Trails and paving the way for Ireland’s Ancient East. 2015 marks 150 years since the birth of Nobel laureate, WB Yeats, and Tourism Ireland is promoting Yeats2015 – particularly to our ‘culturally curious’ audience. This year has also been designated ID2015 (the year of Irish design), a showcase of the best of Irish design.


  • Tourism Ireland will maximise the introduction of a number of new year-round and winter air routes, to grow tourism in the shoulder and off-seasons. These include new services like Aer Lingus from Düsseldorf to Cork and CityJet from London City to Cork, from 1st October; as well as additional capacity this winter on Aer Lingus flights from Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Zurich and Geneva. Lufthansa will increase frequency on its Munich-Dublin flight; and Ryanair will extend its services from Copenhagen and Venice (Treviso) to Dublin, as well as adding frequencies on routes from Barcelona, Berlin and Madrid to Dublin. From the United States, Aer Lingus will extend its new Washington DC-Dublin service until the beginning of January, increase capacity on flights from JFK and Boston to Dublin between January and March 2016 and add flights between Chicago and Dublin. Delta is also planning to operate a larger aircraft on its service from JFK to Dublin. From Britain, both Ryanair and Aer Lingus will have additional flights from Manchester and Birmingham to Dublin.


  • Tourism Ireland’s busy autumn promotional schedule will include:

o   ‘Jump into Ireland’ travel trade and media blitzes in Minneapolis, Denver, Dallas, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Francisco;

o   ‘Flavours of Ireland’ – targeting long-haul markets through UK inbound tour operators;

o   World Travel Market, London – the largest B2B event in the global travel and tourism calendar.


Niall Gibbons said: ‘We are determined to ensure that tourism growth continues. We are undertaking an extensive programme of promotions around the world throughout 2015 which includes a focus on the Wild Atlantic Way, as well as on events like Yeats2015 and ID2015. We are also showcasing the new Dublin Discovery Trails and paving the way for Ireland’s Ancient East and the Gobbins Cliff Path. We will shortly launch an extensive global autumn campaign, to boost business in the off-peak season and carry the growth momentum into 2016.”