Minister for Transport, Transport & Sport Leo Varadkar has welcomed the first CSO tourism figures for 2012, which show that visits to Ireland increased again compared to the previous year for the period November 2011-January 2012.
“I am very pleased to see that 2012 has started off on a positive note for tourism. This follows the encouraging performance in 2011, which saw the first return to growth in visitor numbers over the year since 2007,” Minister Varadkar said.
Visits for November 2011 to January 2012 increased overall by 1.9% compared to the same period last year, reaching nearly 1.2 million for the period.
Visits from Britain were up 4.7% to 580,800. Visits from the rest of Europe were up 3% to 404,400. There was a decline in visits from North America of 5.4% and from the rest of the world of 9.4%.
“Clearly the picture was mixed, with some markets performing better than others. A range of factors such as economic confidence, or uncertainty, in many of our source markets is evident in these figures with visits up 16.3% from Germany and down 5.1% from Italy.
“However, it is particularly important that we sustain growth in visits from Great Britain, our largest market for inbound tourism. I believe the continued growth from Britain shows that the British tourist recognises that Ireland is accessible, different and offers great value once again.
“The upcoming St Patrick’s week events right across our key markets, along with the international launch of The Gathering Ireland 2013, the biggest ever tourism initiative in Ireland, will allow us to build on this good start to 2012. Tourism Ireland will be ‘greening’ landmarks throughout the world, reinforcing the message that there has never been a better time to come and experience what Ireland has to offer.”
The new Discover Ireland 2012 campaign will be unveiled shortly. Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring said he hoped that 2012 will be as good for home holidays as 2011. “Thousands of Irish people chose to holiday at home last year. I would encourage holidaymakers to think of Ireland first when making their holiday plans this year.”