Another record year for tourism as overseas visitors exceed 10.6m

Signs for the Wild Atlantic Way outside Kinsale, Co Cork.

Overseas tourism figures are set for another record year as the number of tourists visiting Ireland grew by almost 600,000 in the first nine months of 2016, bringing in added revenue of €300m to the industry.

Overseas visitors to the whole island are expected to exceed 10.6m this year, bringing total revenue of €5.7bn for both economies.

Figures published by the CSO yesterday show that spending in Ireland by overseas visitors for the first nine months of the year also rose by 9.4% compared with the corresponding period of 2015. The figures are published in the CSO’s Tourism and Travel statistics.

In terms of the amount spent by overseas visitors, all of Ireland’s main markets grew in the first nine months of 2016 compared to 2015. Great Britain increased by 11.4%, North America by 6.4%, mainland Europe rose by 9.7% while other long-haul markets increased by 21.3%.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “This was a strong performance and reflects the sentiment we’ve been hearing from our tourism industry partners, both overseas and here at home.

“We’ve just launched our marketing plans for 2017, which will see us build on this year’s growth to deliver €5.7bn (+4.5%) in overseas tourism revenue to the economies north and south, by welcoming 10.6m visitors.”

Tourism Minister Shane Ross said: “Overseas tourism figures are set for another record year with a reported 8.277m visits to Ireland in the first 10 months of 2016. This is excellent news. The CSO release shows the economic significance of overseas tourism.

“My department’s policies in tourism and aviation are closely integrated to ensure that the opportunities for continued growth are fully realised for both sectors, as increased demand for Ireland as a tourism destination encourages more air connectivity and increased capacity on existing routes.

“Sports tourism is also no longer a niche market but an important part of our tourism and sports initiatives. The growth trend is projected to continue, with 10%-14% higher air capacity forecast from North America alone in 2017.”

Fáilte Ireland chief executive Shaun Quinn said that while the figures confirm that 2016 is shaping up to be bumper year for tourism, the industry should not be complacent as unexpected events could cause rapid change for tourism fortunes.

“That is why the tourism sector must remain competitive, continue to offer value and look to markets such as mainland Europe to ensure this growth in visitors and revenue can continue,” he said.

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