Skip to main content

2016 Record Breaking Year for Tourism

27th January 2017 - Patrick ODonovan TD

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan TD, today welcomed the publication of official data on overseas travel for 2016 from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which showed an increase of 10.9% in overseas visits to Ireland for 2016 compared to 2015. There was a record breaking total of 9,584,400 visits to Ireland in 2016.

Commenting on the tourism figures, Minister Ross said: “I am delighted that Irish tourism has had a record breaking year in 2016. This has been achieved largely due to the hard work of the tourism industry with the assistance of the tourism agencies. I am confident of another good year for tourism in 2017.

Nevertheless the Government is acutely aware of the challenges facing tourism not least of which is Brexit. In this regard the All-Island Civic Dialogue process has been expanded to include the Tourism & Hospitality dialogue which Minister O Donovan and I attended on Monday last in Dundalk. The event was a great opportunity to hear the voices of the people and organisations affected by the outcome of the UK vote, both directly and through their representative groups. I very much look forward to working with all of these groups to ensure we maintain growth in 2017.”

Today’s CSO figures on Overseas Travel show:

  • At over 9.584 million visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 10.9% in 2016 compared to 2015.
  • Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 8.5% in 2016, to 3,302,100 visits
  • North America registered an increase of 19.4% for 2016 (1,808,000 visits)
  • Visits from Great Britain were up by 10.6% for 2016 (3,924,100 visits)
  • Visits from the rest of the world (mostly long-haul and developing markets) totalled 550,200 for 2016 (representing an increase of 2.2%).

Minister O‘Donovan added: “We now have official figures for overseas visits to Ireland which confirms that 2016 has been another record breaking year for Irish tourism. The figures published today confirm that Irish tourism continues to build on its upward curve leading to more jobs and economic growth. The Government will continue to work on measures necessary for the tourism industry to compete as demonstrated by the continuation of the 9% VAT rate.”

Commenting on the CSO Overseas Travel figures, Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said: ”Today’s figures confirm that 2016 was a record-breaking year for overseas tourism to Ireland, with almost 9.6 million people arriving here – an increase of +10.9%, or 941,300 additional overseas visitors, when compared with 2015. I am delighted to report that growth was recorded from all of our markets around the world, with exceptional results from North America (+19.4% on 2015). Ireland now welcomes 10% of all American visitors to Europe – particularly noteworthy given the intense competition from other destinations. We have also seen record numbers arriving here from Mainland Europe (+8.5%); and I also welcome the continued strong performance from Britain (+10.6%), our largest market for overseas tourism. Our focus now is on the year ahead. Tourism Ireland will create ‘stand out’ for the island of Ireland around the world throughout 2017, highlighting iconic experiences like the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Titanic Belfast and the Causeway Coastal Route. We will also promote Dublin and Belfast, in particular for shoulder and off-peak travel. Screen tourism will remain a priority, as we continue to capitalise on our connections with Star Wars and Game of Thrones. Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue in 2017 by +4.5%, to €5.7 billion, for the island of Ireland.”

Paul Keeley, Director of Business Development with Fáilte Ireland emphasised: “While 2016 delivered an impressive performance, we need to remember that, as a small open tourism economy, we are at the mercy of external events and the unexpected Brexit development means that the British market is set to be challenging in the near future, particularly given the weakening of Sterling.

“That said, we can address those factors within our control. This means that we need to maintain our competitiveness, develop further our current stable of branded visitor experiences and ensure that we target those overseas markets which offer the most reliable returns in the near future.”

Stay Up To Date With Fine Gael