Recent figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that visitor numbers continue to increase, up 3.1% in the first seven months of the year compared to the same period in 2016.
However, the number of visitors from Britain has dropped by 6.2% as a consequence of Brexit and the subsequent depreciation of sterling against the euro.
According to Minister Shane Ross, the overall growth in visitor numbers is being driven by excellent numbers from North America, and strong performances from mainland Europe and long-haul markets such as Australia.
While expressing concern about the British market, Minister Ross said he remains confident that the efforts of Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland will help to minimise these losses whilst at the same time encouraging and facilitating visitors from other sources.
According to the CSO, there were 5.597 million visits to Ireland in the first seven months of the year, including 1,162,700 visits from North America, an increase of 17.4%. Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, commented that the decline in the value of sterling has made holidays and short breaks here more expensive for British visitors.
Mr Gibbons added, “economic uncertainty is undoubtedly making British travellers more cautious about their discretionary spending. This is impacting on travel to Ireland. Therefore, competitiveness and the value for money message are more important than ever in Britain right now.”
County Clare has been benefiting from the tourism boom. Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway commented, “Clare has seen an increase in overseas visitor numbers of 223,000 since 2010 and this is great news for the county. The tourism sector has played a crucial role in the Irish economic recovery. Measures such as the retention of the 9% VAT rate on tourism services have been significant in helping our tourism sector weather the recession.
“The figures show that the number of North American and European visitors continues to surge ahead, despite a slight drop in numbers from the UK. The numbers employed in tourism continue to grow with an increase of 2,550 in the Mid-West region since 2011. These jobs are vital to our economy and communities”. Senator Conway credits some of that success to the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East concepts which have proved enormously successful.