Visitor numbers increased by 6% from all of Ireland’s main markets in the first five months of the year – and by 8% between March and May – which Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said shows the Gathering is gaining momentum.
There was a huge increase of more than 12% in visitor numbers from North America, and a turn-around in the long-declining Great Britain market with growth increasing during the year.
“The Gathering is making a real difference to tourist numbers in 2013. These are the best figures for the first five months since 2009. As the year progresses, each set of statistics shows that the Gathering is making a difference. Numbers from North America are as good as we’ve ever seen them, while France is leading the charge from Europe. The increase in visitor numbers from Britain is one of the most startling results, since British people are generally travelling much less,” Minister Varadkar said.
The figures show:
· At almost 2.5 million visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 6.4% in the first five months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. For the three-month period from March to May 2013, overseas trips to Ireland increased by 8.1% to 1.77 million trips;
· North America registered an increase of 12.8% for January – May 2013 (369,100 visits) and of 12.6% in March – May 2013 (282,300);
· Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 8.5% for January to May 2013 to 917,300 visits, and by 9.6% between March and May (676,000 visits). In this three-month period, we witnessed particularly strong performances from France (+26.3%) and Benelux (+11.0%), followed by Germany (+6.1%), the Nordic countries (+6.0%) and Spain (+5.4%);
· Visits from Great Britain were up by 2.8% for January – May 2013 (1,069,900) and by an encouraging 5.6% for the three months from March to May 2013 (726,300 visits);
· Visits from the rest of the world, mostly long-haul and developing markets, totalled 132,200 for the first five months of 2013 (+4.9%) and 87,000 for the three months from March to May alone (+3.2%) – within these markets, comparing March – May 2013 to the same three months in 2012, Australia and New Zealand grew by an impressive 12.1%.
Minister for State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring added: “Our main tourist season is now in full swing, and I would encourage everyone to take in one of the fun festivals and exciting events around the country. There’s something in every corner of Ireland. Later this month Jean Butler will lead cast members and Irish dancing enthusiasts from around the world in a 1km kilometre line along the River Liffey, in an attempt to break the existing world record for the longest line of Irish Dancers. But it that doesn’t take your fancy, take a look at Gatheringireland.com or discoverireland.ie to see what’s happening.”
Both Ministers cautioned against becoming complacent, stressing the need for the tourist industry to continue to offer good value for money so that a positive experience matches visitor expectations and sustains good tourism growth into the future.