New figures which have just been released by Ireland’s Central Statistics Office show that overseas visitors have increased by 17% from December to February inclusive. This increase stems from various markets including North America where visits rose by 13%. Additionally the Great Britain market rose by 21.2% whereas visitors from mainland Europe increased by 14%.
Additionally these figures show a change in pattern of tourism as normally tourism in the island of Ireland slows down in Winter months & numbers pick up around St. Patrick’s Day. Current figures from the Central Statistics Office indicate that an extra 247,000 visitors made the trip to Ireland compared to the exact same period from 2014 to 2015.
The island of Ireland saw a record 8.6 million visitors in 2015 with the government’s Tourism Action Plan seeking to bring in 10 million annual visitors by 2025.
Welcoming the news, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said the “figures represent a very positive start to 2016 – confirming that, for the first time ever, we welcomed more than 1 million visitors in the first two months of the year.”
He continued “Our focus now is on surpassing last year’s success, to ensure that 2016 is another record-breaking year for overseas tourism. We remain conscious of recent tragic events in Brussels and elsewhere and the potential impact on travel; we continue to monitor the situation.”
“Earlier this month, our promotions received a tremendous boost, with our Global Greening initiative for St Patrick’s Day – which was even bigger and better than ever before. Vast positive coverage was generated around the world in print, broadcast, social and online media – as our Global Greening captured the imaginations of people everywhere at a key time for holiday planning and decisions. St Patrick’s Day traditionally marks the real start of the tourism season for us and we took every opportunity to capitalize on Ireland’s heightened profile.”
Additionally, Failte Ireland who is responsible for co-ordinating marketing of the tourism industry stated that the “omens are good” for the rest of 2016. In fact the number of airlines seats into Ireland will be up 10% from the previous year while in Dublin hotel report “extremely high occupancy levels”.
Despite some weakening of the strength of sterling against the euro in recent months, visitors from the North are boosting business in countries Sligo and Donegal. While businesses in South Kerry say enquiries have increased due to the filming of Star Wars on Skellig Michael.
“The signs look good and there is great cause for optimism within tourism this year but there are also good reasons not to be too complacent,” said Shaun Quinn, chief executive at Fáilte Ireland.
“The recent weakening of sterling in relation to the euro means we have to remain vigilant with regard to competitiveness”. “Furthermore, recent incidents in Paris and Brussels have the potential for undermining travel confidence, particularly from the US. In Fáilte Ireland we are taking nothing for granted,” Mr Quinn said.