8m tourists expected to visit Ireland next year as Star Wars effect lifts off

More than eight million tourists are expected to visit Ireland next year as the Star Wars effect will help bring a €4bn boost to the economy.

8m tourists expected to visit Ireland next year as Star Wars effect lifts off

Tourism Ireland has launched its marketing drive to promote Ireland abroad next year and says it aims to surpass this year’s record performance and bring in 8.2m visitors next year.

This figure represents an increase of 4% on 2015 and is expected to deliver €4.4bn to the economy.

Figures from the CSO show that the number of visitors from Britain has grown by 20% since 2010, while the numbers from north America (51%), mainland Europe (38%), and Australia (66%) have also shown significant increases.

Tourism Ireland said the key factors in Ireland’s ability to sustain visitor number growth include new flights here, stronger economies in our key source markets, the Ireland ‘brand’ remaining strong, and favourable exchange rates for sterling and the dollar.

Tourism Ireland also said the release of Star Wars Episode VII — which will feature Skellig Michael — also presents a unique opportunity to highlight the country to a global audience.

A new ad highlighting Ireland’s Ancient East will launch in January in 23 markets around the world. Tourism Ireland will also promote Dublin — A Breath of Fresh Air in major markets in 2016.

CEO of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons said this year will likely be the best year ever for tourism and next promises to be even better.

“Following a successful 2015, ambitious targets have been set again for 2016 and beyond,” he said. “We will unveil Ireland’s Ancient East around the world, while continuing to place a major focus on the Wild Atlantic Way. We will also highlight Dublin, in particular capitalising on the recent inclusion of Dublin at number three in the world in the prestigious ‘Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2016’.

“Early next year, we will leverage the huge global popularity of Star Wars, following the upcoming launch of Star Wars Episode VII. And we will work with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to highlight Ireland 2016 to people everywhere — showcasing major new attractions and the year’s signature events.”

Tourism minister Paschal Donohoe said tourism now played a key role in generating economic growth and employment opportunities.

“That is why we continue to invest in tourism marketing, and in supporting our tourism businesses to enhance their competitiveness,” said Mr Donohoe. “Our policies on the air travel tax and Vat have helped to improve the value on offer for our visitors. The overall tourism goal of Government — as expressed in our Tourism Policy Statement — is that by 2025, revenue from overseas visitors, excluding carrier receipts, will increase to €5bn net of inflation.”

Meanwhile, mayor of County Cork John Paul O’Shea, chief executive of the county council Tim Lucey, chair of the Tourism Strategic Policy Committee Alan Coleman, and the director of Economic Development and Tourism Louis Duffy flew to Boston yesterday in a bid to attract more business and tourism.

As a region, Cork has seen the highest percentage of foreign direct investment in Ireland in recent years.

The delegation aims to raise the profile of the Cork region among business and community leaders in Boston and to highlight the potential for international trade and tourism.

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