Another tourism record for Ireland but Brexit could hamper growth

Ben Groundwater and Riana Andrews on Skellig Michael, Co Kerry

An increase in overseas visitors for the first five months of this year is helping to make 2016 a record breaking year for tourism.

However, the collapse of sterling in the wake of the Brexit vote could hurt further growth, according to Tourism Ireland.

There was an almost 14% rise in the number of tourists arriving in Ireland between January and May — with the number of visitors from North America rising by over 18%.

Tourism Ireland has welcomed figures released yesterday by the Central Statistics Office which show strong growth in the number of people visiting Ireland in the three months from March to May.

However, it also warned that the fallout from the Brexit referendum has the capacity to dampen growth in the future.

The CSO said there were just under 2.4m trips to Ireland in the period, an increase of 10.3% on the same period a year earlier.

Trips from North America to Ireland jumped by 19.3%, while trips from Britain rose by 9.3% and visits from the rest of Europe increased by 9.2%.

Irish people were also travelling more, with trips abroad up 8.4% to just over 1.7m in the three-month period.

For the first five months of the year, visitor numbers to Ireland are 13.7% ahead of the same period last year at 3.46 million.

Tourism Ireland chief Niall Gibbons said there had been exceptional results from North America for the first five months of the year — up over 18% on the same five-month period in 2015.

He also welcomed the strong increase in British visitors, but added that Tourism Ireland was monitoring developments following the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the EU.

Tourism Ireland chief Niall Gibbons
Tourism Ireland chief Niall Gibbons

“The outcome of the recent EU referendum in the UK has given rise to economic uncertainty and currency movements, which have the capacity to hamper growth,” he said.

“Tourism Ireland is liaising with our key stakeholders and monitoring developments.

“Today’s figures represent an excellent performance for overseas tourism to date.

“We have seen exceptional results from North America for the five-month period of January to May — up over 18% on the same five-month period in 2015.

“I also welcome the strong increase in British visitors (up almost 16%).

“Mainland Europe has also turned in a superb performance (+11.5%), with important markets like Italy, Spain and the Benelux countries all showing really good growth.”

Mr Gibbons said that despite the fact that the outcome of the recent EU referendum in the UK has given rise to economic uncertainty and currency movements, Tourism Ireland is determined to get the message out that it is business as usual.

“Britain remains an extremely important market for Irish tourism, and Tourism Ireland is undertaking an extensive programme of promotions in Britain, and elsewhere around the world, to ensure this strong performance continues. Our aim is to ensure that 2016 is another record-breaking year for Irish tourism.”

Almost 4.5m British tourists visited Ireland last year and spent almost €1bn here.

Another tourism record for Ireland but Brexit could hamper growth

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