September's international travel up 200% on last year

September's international travel up 200% on last year

Other than Britain, the most important countries for overseas travel last month were Spain, France and Portugal. Photo: PA

International travel was more than 200% higher in September when compared to the same period last year, but still “considerably lower” than pre-pandemic levels, the latest figures show.

Air and sea travel figures for last month, published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), found levels “held steady” when compared to the previous month.

In September 2021, 810,100 overseas passengers arrived in Ireland, compared to 821,700 in August 2021, a decrease of 1.4%. However, this was significantly higher than the 254,400 arrivals in September 2020.

In September 2021, 792,000 overseas passengers departed from Ireland, compared to 781,000 in August 2021, an increase of 1.4%. This was also a notable increase on the September 2020 figure of 236,700.

Statistician Gregg Patrick said continental routes contributed most to passenger travel, with 493,100 passengers arriving on continental routes, and 458,600 departing.

“By way of contrast, 252,700 passengers arrived on cross-channel routes and 277,100 passengers departed on cross-channel routes,” he said.

“Just 40,500 passengers arrived on transatlantic routes and 40,000 passengers departed on these routes.”

Other than Britain, the most important countries for overseas travel last month were Spain, which had 128,800 arrivals and 130,300 departures; France with 53,000 arrivals and 49,600 departures and Portugal with 48,300 arrivals and 48,100 departures.

While international travel, both in and out of the country, has increased compared to periods in which strict restrictions were in place, there is still a lasting impact from the pandemic, Mr Patrick said.

“When we look at the year-to-date picture (January-September 2021), the statistics show that 2,551,600 overseas passengers arrived in Ireland and 2,609,100 overseas passengers departed from Ireland,” he said.

“This compares to both 4m arrivals and departures in the same period in 2020 and 15.7m arrivals and 15.8m departures in the same period in 2019.” 

Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, chairman of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (Itic), said the decrease in inbound tourists is not a surprise.

“That’s not unusual, tourism is seasonal so the summer months tend to be busier than autumn months. September is always quieter than August and October is always quieter than September,” he said.

“Irish people would flee the weather we’re having around now. Generally, the autumn months are still quite good. We still get lots of Americans and Europeans because Ireland is not a sun destination, and people never come for the weather. There is more interest in culture and the city.”

However, Mr O'Mara Walsh said while international tourists have been "thin on the ground" so far, he believes things will improve next month.

"The US is to open to European visitors from November 8, and Aer Lingus will put on more flights, so we will see more Americans coming to Ireland," he said.

"The American market has been quiet because there hasn’t been the air access that we need. That should help." He added that it would be a "long difficult winter" for Irish tourism businesses.

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