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6.5% increase in visitors shows 2013 is a great year for tourism – Varadkar

26th September 2013 - Leo Varadkar, TD

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has said 2013 has become a great year for tourism after the CSO published new figures showing a 6.5% rise in overseas visits to Ireland for the first eight months of 2013.

“Improved value for money, better air access and The Gathering have all combined to give us an excellent year for inbound tourism. It looks like being a record year from North America and I am reassured by growth from Britain. We now need to build on this success in 2014,” Minister Varadkar said.

“These figures cover the peak tourism months of June to August. All of our main overseas markets are showing positive growth and we are well on target to surpass our Gathering year target of attracting an additional 325,000 overseas visitors this year.”

Today’s CSO figures on Overseas Travel show:

· At over 4.75 million visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 6.5% in the first eight months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. For the three-month period from June to August 2013, overseas trips to Ireland increased by 6.7% to 2.26 million trips;
· Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 4.8% for January to August 2013, to 1.7 million visits and by 0.9% for the June to August period (795,000 visits);
· North America registered an increase of 16.5% for January – August 2013 (807,000 visits) and of 19.9% in the June – August 2013 period (438,000 visits);
· Visits from Great Britain were up by 3.7% for January – August 2013 (1.949 million visits) and by 4.7% for the three months from June to August 2013 compared to the corresponding period of 2012 (879,000 visits);
· Visits from the rest of the world (mostly long-haul and developing markets) totalled 285,000 for the first eight months of 2013 (representing an increase of 11.3%) and 153,000 for the three months from June to August alone (representing an increase of 17.6%).

“Irish tourism is having a very good year but as I have said on many occasions, we must never become complacent. The Gathering is still underway and we remain focused on delivering a great year for tourism,” Minister Varadkar said.

“Last month I launched a major tourism policy review, which will form the basis of a new strategy for Irish tourism. This will help us to build on the Gathering and ensure long-term sustained growth for the sector. I’m looking forward to hearing from all the stakeholders. Similarly, the tourism industry should not take the upturn for granted and must continue to deliver memorable and value-for-money experiences.”

Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring said there are still many significant tourism events coming before the end of 2013. “The figures published today again show that The Gathering has worked, and I know there are many more Gatherings due before the final New Year’s Eve festival. We have a packed schedule of annual festivals this autumn including this weekend’s Galway Oyster and Seafood Festival, the Wexford Festival Opera and the Cork Jazz Festival which will hopefully give all of these areas a significant boost in the weeks ahead.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures from the CSO for June to August are very strong, showing growth from almost all of our markets worldwide. We are seeing record growth this year from North America (+20% for the three-month period); and from our long-haul markets (+17.6%) – with Australia and New Zealand in particular driving that growth (+19.7%).

“It is also really encouraging to see a return to growth in visitors from Great Britain for this period (almost +5%). Mainland Europe is also playing its part in growing tourism business from overseas this year, with good increases in particular from markets like Germany (+12%), the Nordic countries (+12%) and Benelux (+11.5%). Our autumn campaign is now in full swing – we have a really extensive programme in place between now and the end of the year, targeting late-season travellers around the world, to keep this momentum going. The period September to December traditionally yields as much as 30% of overseas tourism business.”

Fáilte Ireland welcomed the latest tourism statistics with CEO Shaun Quinn emphasising: “For us in Fáilte Ireland, these figures are clear evidence that The Gathering is providing tourism with the ‘jump-start’ we always imagined it would. The North American performance is very impressive and the European markets are bouncing back. The increase in British visitors is particularly welcome as that market has been challenged for some time. The trick for tourism going forward will be to maintain the momentum created by the gathering and build on this performance.” 

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