New Tourism Minister welcomes continued growth in visitor numbers

28th July, 2014

Tourism Policy Statement will set ambitious targets until 2025 to ensure Ireland remains an attractive destination

The Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, has welcomed the continued growth in overseas visitor numbers for the first six months of 2014, which were released today (Monday) by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Speaking following the release of the figures, Minister Donohoe said: ‘We now have official figures for overseas visits to Ireland for the first half of 2014 which show that Irish tourism is having, yet again, another excellent year. Last year was the year of the Gathering and the challenge was to grow visitor numbers even further in 2014. Today’s figures show that overseas visitor numbers are up an encouraging 10.3% compared to the first six months of 2013. Trips to Ireland increased by 12.3% in Q2 from April to June 2014. This is excellent news for everybody involved in Irish tourism and reflects the hard work carried out by Government and all those involved in the tourism industry and in promoting Ireland overseas’.

The latest CSO figures on Overseas Travel show:
• At over 3,469,100 visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 10.3% in the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013.
• Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 6% for January to June 2014, to over 1,218,100 visits;
• North America registered an increase of 10.6% for January – June 2014 (over 574,500 visits);
• Visits from Great Britain were up by 13.6% for January – June 2014 (1,473,200 visits);
• Visits from the rest of the world, mostly long-haul and developing markets, were up by 13.6%, totalling over 203,300 visits.

Minister Donohoe said: ‘The strong performance shows that the measures introduced by this Government have worked. In my new role, I look forward to working with the industry and the tourism agencies to ensure that this growth continues for the remainder of 2014 and beyond. In this regard, I will be finalising a new Tourism Policy Statement later this year which will set ambitious targets for the tourism sector in the period to 2025 and outline a range of policy priorities to achieve these targets’.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring TD added: “All involved in the tourism industry can be proud of the on-going improvement in visitor numbers to this country. The hard work of the industry coupled with the supports provided by Government and the tourism agencies has resulted in a remarkable turnaround. We are not resting on our laurels and August alone will include lots for our visitors to see and do including this week’s Galway Races followed by the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show and the Croke Park Classic at the end of the month.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: ‘Today’s CSO figures confirm growth of +10% in overseas visitors to Ireland for the first half of 2014, an additional 324,400 visitors when compared with January to June 2013. I am delighted to report that we are seeing growth from all of our market areas around the world this year. I am particularly pleased to see visitor numbers from Great Britain increasing by +14% for the first half of this year (176,100 additional visitors). 2014 is also set to be another record year for tourism from North America, with growth of +11% (54,900 additional visitors) recorded for the first six months of this year. And it is very encouraging to see growth from other important tourism markets, including Germany (+18%), Spain (+22%), Italy (+4%) and our long-haul markets (+14%). This reflects the sentiment expressed by our industry partners, including carriers and tour operators overseas, as well as tourism enterprises here at home. We are determined to ensure that tourism growth continues. We are undertaking an extensive programme of promotions around the world throughout 2014 which includes a major focus on the Wild Atlantic Way, as well as on major events like Limerick City of Culture and the Croke Park Classic, when the University of Central Florida takes on Penn State in their college football season opener, on 30th August.

Noting today’s figures, Fáilte Ireland CEO, Shaun Quinn, emphasised: “The increase in numbers from the UK is extremely impressive and the performance of our biggest overseas market is exceeding all expectations. All our other key markets are also delivering extra visitors, tourism businesses around the country are upbeat and we seem set for our best tourism season since the downturn began. However, the key challenge to tourism growth over the next few years or so will be complacency and we need to work hard to maintain that balance of good value and quality which the sector has achieved in recent years. Whether it is through new exciting propositions such as the Wild Atlantic Way or via the latest innovations in digital and social media, Fáilte Ireland will be using every opportunity we can identify to maximise tourism growth and to ensure the sector delivers the additional revenue and jobs which this country needs.”