With visitor numbers to Ireland up 11% this year, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has said this is a welcome sign of further recovery in the tourism industry.
The latest CSO overseas travel figures show that 2.1 million people came to Ireland during the peak June to August period, an increase of 6.1% on the same period last year. Overall figures for the first eight months of 2011 show that 4.5 million overseas visitors came to Ireland, an increase of 11% on 2010.
“These figures are very encouraging. The Irish tourism industry is on track to record growth in overseas visitors for the first time since 2007. I hope the €9 million Tourism Ireland marketing initiative which I launched recently, to channel some of the proceeds from the travel tax back into tourism, will further stimulate visitor numbers,” Minister Varadkar said.
The figures for the first eight months of 2011 show that:
“It’s particularly encouraging to see a continued good performance from Great Britain as it remains our most important overseas market. Visits to Ireland from Great Britain rose by 4.8%, at a time that outbound visits by UK residents are falling, showing that Ireland is gaining market share.
“The Jobs Initiative launched earlier this year focused heavily on promoting tourism jobs. The 4.5 million visitors who visited Ireland this year have helped to create and sustain jobs, and boosted export earnings and tax receipts. The challenge is to maintain this positive momentum for the rest of the year. The extra €9 million winter tourism marketing blitz to boost visitor numbers to Ireland is now underway. This will promote Ireland to around 20 million potential overseas visitor in the coming months, and involves significant matching private sector funding.
Minister of State for Transport & Sport Michael Ring TD welcomed the fact that more Irish people are choosing to holiday at home. ‘Irish people are enjoying Ireland’s own tourism product in greater numbers, including the great deals on offer. Peak season may be over, but the next few weeks are very important for the tourism sector as we host some of our most exciting festivals and events, including the continuation of the Dublin Festival Season, the Wexford Opera festival, and next weekend’s Cork Jazz festival’.