Trips to Ireland by overseas visitors are up 10.3% for the first half of 2014, according to CSO figures released today.
The figures show a steady gain compared to the same period in 2013, with over 3,469,100 overseas visitors recorded by the Central Statistics Office between January and June (inclusive).
The latest figures on Overseas Travel show:
Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 6pc, to over 1,218,100 visits
North America registered an increase of 10.6pc (over 574,500 visits)
Visits from Great Britain were up by 13.6pc (1,473,200 visits)
Visits from the rest of the world were up 13.6pc over 203,300 visits
Growth from Britain will be seen as particularly good news. The UK is Ireland’s single most important inbound tourism market, and figures had fallen off drastically in recent years.
Fáilte Ireland CEO, Shaun Quinn, said:
“The increase in numbers from the UK is extremely impressive and the performance of our biggest overseas market is exceeding all expectations. All our other key markets are also delivering extra visitors; tourism businesses around the country are upbeat and we seem set for our best tourism season since the downturn began.”
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, added:
“We are undertaking an extensive programme of promotions around the world throughout 2014 which includes a major focus on the Wild Atlantic Way, as well as on major events like Limerick City of Culture and the Croke Park Classic, when the University of Central Florida takes on Penn State in their college football season opener, on August 30th.”
Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe commented that the figures showed “Irish tourism is having, yet again, another excellent year.”
“Last year was the year of the Gathering and the challenge was to grow visitor numbers even further in 2014… [the figures are] excellent news for everybody involved in Irish tourism and reflect the hard work carried out by Government and all those involved in the tourism industry and in promoting Ireland overseas.”
Minister Donohue, new to his role following the recent cabinet reshuffle, is finalising a new Tourism Policy Statement which will set “ambitious targets” for the sector in the period to 2025.
It will be released later this year.