Irish tourism set to smash records this year

TOURISM chiefs yesterday predicted 2006 could be a record year for the industry.

US and British markets, in particular, are showing notable increases with total visitor figures for May up 14% over last year.

The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation is optimistic that visitor numbers, for the first time, could top seven million.

According to the Central Statistics Office, the season proper kicked off with 710,700 visitors in early summer, up 118,000 from the figure in May 2005.

The increase came amid fears of a possible dip in tourist numbers.

The lucrative North American market increased from 92,000 in May 2005 to 100,700 this year, a 6% rise.

British and mainland European markets showed the healthiest increases.

British visitors were up from 310,800 to 360,500 while 224,300 tourists arrived from other European states, compared to 175,000 last year.

The tourist confederation’s chief executive, Eamonn McKeon, suggested a variety of factors were responsible for the upturn.

“Tourism Ireland have done a good job in promoting the country in recent months,” he said.

“Last year, Ryanair launched a number of new European routes and we are starting to see results in that sector.

“It looks likely that the total visitor numbers for Ireland will pass the seven million mark for the year in total, which is good news for the industry.”

Mr McKeon added that hoteliers in the West of Ireland were reporting increased visitor numbers. This was in contrast to recent statistics pointing to dominance by accommodation providers in Dublin.

The CSO figures also revealed that, in May 2006, 603,700 Irish people had overseas holidays, an increase of 37,500 from the same period last year and, significantly, 130,000 more than had travelled abroad in May 2004.

Tourism Minister John O’Donoghue said: “The figures, for overseas visitors, lend further support to what I stated recently that there are grounds for optimism that 2006 will be a successful year for tourism in Ireland.

“In particular, the figures for North America are very encouraging. I believe that further increased air capacity from the US, over the summer months, will reinforce the positive trend.”

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.