Positive start to 2016 for tourism – Donohoe and Ring

25th February, 2016

18.4% increase in overseas visits to Ireland for November 2015 to January 2016 period


2015 was a record breaking year for overseas visitors to Ireland and figures released today (Thursday) show that the positive trend has continued into 2016.  CSO data shows that the number of overseas visits between November 2015 and January 2016 increased by 18.4% compared to the corresponding period of 2014/2015.

Commenting on the CSO data, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe stated: ‘I welcome today’s statistics which show that the number of overseas visitors coming to Ireland continues to grow. 2015 saw the highest ever number of overseas visits to Ireland and we are aiming for even further growth in visit numbers and associated revenue in 2016. As part of the overseas marketing drive, I recently announced details of Tourism Ireland’s unique Global Greening initiative which will see some of the world’s most famous attractions and sites going green to mark St Patrick’s Day at a key holiday-planning time for potential tourists.

In relation to the longer term, last month Minister Ring and I published a Tourism Action Plan that sets out the priority actions required to achieve our 2025 targets 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.’

Comparing the three-month period Nov ‘15 – Jan ‘16 with the period Nov ’14 – Jan’15:

  • Overall trips to Ireland were up by 18.4%;
  • Visits from North America were up by 19.4%;
  • Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 21.1%;
  • Visits from the rest of the world (long-haul) increased by 10.6%;
  • Great Britain registered an increase of 17.5% in visits.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, added: ‘Job creation has been this Government’s number one priority and the tourism sector provides jobs in every part of Ireland. Today’s data confirms that the measures we introduced to help the tourism sector continue to deliver results.  Furthermore, another CSO release earlier this week showed that the numbers employed in the Accommodation and Food Services Sector also rose in the final quarter of 2015 which is excellent news for everybody involved in Irish tourism’.

Welcoming the figures, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures represent a very positive start to 2016, as we roll out our promotional programme around the world. I am very pleased to see an increase in overseas visitor numbers of +18.4% between November 2015 and January 2016, about 271,400 additional visitors when compared with the same three-month period last year. I am delighted to report that growth was recorded from all of our markets around the world – including Britain (+17.5%), North America (+19.4%), Mainland Europe (+21.1%) and from Australia and developing markets (+10.6%).  And, it is particularly encouraging that we’ve seen +17% growth in overseas visitors in the month of January alone.”

Niall Gibbons continued: “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. Our promotions will receive a tremendous boost next month, with our Global Greening initiative for St Patrick’s Day set to be even bigger and better than ever before. St Patrick’s Day traditionally marks the real start of the tourism season for us and we will be taking every opportunity to capitalise on Ireland’s heightened profile. “

Welcoming the positive start to the year, Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn cautioned against complacency and urged a continued focus on achieving incremental steady growth: “Today’s great growth builds on the positive trends of the last few years but we mustn’t lose the run of ourselves. Recent fluctuations in the currency markets – particularly Sterling – and international volatility could change the current positive narrative very quickly.

“As a sector which needs to focus on consistent and sustainable growth, tourism must maintain its competitiveness in terms of value and quality throughout 2016. In particular, Fáilte Ireland will be working with tourism businesses to boost regionality and seasonality – aiming for greater visitor numbers beyond the usual hotspots and growing activity outside of the summer season.  This will be key to ensuring that tourism enjoys perma-growth, rather than a fair weather bounce, throughout the country and throughout the year.”