……………….. highlights challenges for Irish tourism – Varadkar
The latest CSO tourism figures show disappointing results for numbers coming from Great Britain and are mixed overall for the peak season, although visitor numbers from core markets in Europe showed strong growth of 3% for June, July and August, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar said.
Minister Varadkar also noted that the CSO figures cover all types of travel, and not just holiday travel. Sentiment from hotels and visitor attractions suggests that the tourism sector is actually doing better than indicated by visitor numbers alone, a positive sign of demand from people travelling for holidays and leisure as well as conferences and other events.
“Given the kinds of challenges facing consumers in many economies, the overall picture for our overseas tourism performance is far from gloomy. However, we clearly need to do more in this area. I am determined to get our tourism industry on to a sustainable path, with the support of Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland,” Minister Varadkar said.
Visits from all European markets grew by 1.6% to 1,633,100 in the first eight months of 2012;
Long-haul markets grew 3.4% to 255,900;
North America registered a decline of 2.4% for January – August (692,500 visits);
Visits from Great Britain were down by 4% for January-August 2012 to 1,880,600;
Overall there were 4.46 million trips to Ireland from the start of the year, down just 1.4% compared to the same period last year.
For the summer peak three-month period (June to August):
• Trips from core European markets were up by 3%;
• Visits from the rest of the world grew by 3.3%;
• North America was down 2.8%;
• Overall trips were down 2%.
Visits for the three months from June to August continued to grow from:
• Germany (+2.6%);
• Italy (+24%);
• Benelux countries (+1.1%).
Minister Varadkar is currently in the US promoting the Gathering Ireland 2013 – the biggest ever tourism event planned for Ireland. He is visiting New York, Chicago, Boston and Toronto to meet with business leaders, tourism operators, Irish community leaders and to promote Irish tourism and the Gathering in the US media.
“When we look at markets in more detail, there are some encouraging examples and some disappointing ones. In the face of uncertainty in many Eurozone countries, visits grew from Germany, Italy and the Benelux. The numbers from Australia, New Zealand and the developing markets grew at over 3%. The decline in visits from Great Britain is a concern, although clearly the summer weather will have encouraged many British people to opt for sunnier climes during the peak season,” Minister Varadkar said.
Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring said: ‘I welcome the fact that domestic Irish holidays are holding up. The Government will continue to invest in our tourism product, and Ireland has lots to offer from short weekends to longer breaks’.
Commenting on the CSO figures, Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “Global economic conditions continue to present a challenging environment for travel to Ireland, as reflected in today’s CSO figures. Business from Mainland Europe continues to perform well. Visits from North America were up +8% for the month of August alone. However, the British market is still proving difficult with a flat economy and weak consumer confidence having a significant impact on outbound travel. Tourism Ireland’s €19 million autumn campaign is in full swing, aimed at boosting late-season travel to Ireland from around the globe and teeing up ‘The Gathering Ireland 2013’. The campaign – which is being rolled out in GB, the United States, Mainland Europe, Australia and emerging markets – is showcasing the many festivals and events taking place right around the island this autumn; we are also highlighting the exciting programme of events in the pipeline for ‘The Gathering Ireland 2013’.”