Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has said he is confident 2012 will be positive for Irish tourism, in spite of the challenging start to the year.
Speaking following the publication of the CSO’s tourism statistics for the first quarter of the year, Minister Varadkar said he understands that industry and trade partners are generally positive about the coming months, with reports of advance bookings and inquiries being up on this time last year. Industry representatives are hopeful we can achieve our target of a 4.5% increase in visitor numbers for the year.
Minister Varadkar said: ‘It is encouraging that the number of visits from our most important market, Great Britain, continues to grow. However, the figures demonstrate the challenges we continue to face to build on the return to growth in 2011, given economic uncertainties in many key markets and upward trends in the price of oil’.
Minister Varadkar noted the slight decrease of 1.2% in overseas visits to Ireland in the first three months of the year compared to the same period last year. However, he added that airlines will have 4% more capacity on flights into Ireland this summer, which is likely to have a positive effect.
The new CSO figures on overseas travel show that:
The Government, in partnership with the tourism industry and tourism agencies, is determined to grow the industry in 2012 and beyond. A number of exciting events are planned for 2012 and 2013, and the Government continues to take every opportunity to keep Ireland at the forefront of potential overseas visitors’ minds.
“The challenging international climate makes the potential of the Gathering Ireland 2013 even more important. There is an opportunity for everyone at home and abroad to support our recovery by joining in the year-long programme of festivals, events and other gatherings. Minister of State Michael Ring and I visited the Gathering Ireland 2013 project executive team this week where we reviewed progress and preparations in advance of the forthcoming domestic launch.”