By Pádraig Hoare
France, Spain and Italy are now “markets of significant potential” for tourism to Cork, tourism bosses have said.
A Tourism Ireland event in Cork heard that tourist numbers from the three continental countries increased 30% in the past three years.
About 12% of all visitors to Ireland come from France, Spain and Italy, and visitors from all three countries account for almost 13 million bed nights.
Almost two in five French holidaymakers are repeat visitors, staying more than eight nights on average, with almost a third of all French visitors coming between April and June.
Almost 40% of Spanish visitors come during the off-season months of winter, said Tourism Ireland.
The body’s manager for southern Europe, Monica MacLaverty said: “Collectively, France, Spain and Italy delivered more than 1.3m visitors in 2017 and have grown by more than 30% since 2014.
“Now, with over 5,000 airline seats and ferry capacity for 3,900 passengers each week, directly to Cork, the markets of southern Europe offer great potential for further growth.”
Marketing Cork as “an important gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East” was vital in promoting the region as a tourist destination for visitors from the continent, Ms MacLaverty said.
The body will co-ordinate with Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Air France, Iberia, Brittany Ferries and Volotea on campaigns to get more visitors into the region, she said.