Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, a former Director of Wicklow Tourism, has said the latest figures from the CSO, which show that overseas trips to Ireland were up 8.1% from March to May, prove that the Gathering is giving the tourism sector a great boost and augurs well for tourism business in County Wicklow.
“These are very encouraging figures on the number of visitors coming here, as we enter the height of our tourism season. Trips to Ireland increased by 8.1% in the last three months, compared with the same period last year. That means an additional 132,000 visitors came to Ireland between March and May, bringing total overseas visitor numbers to almost 1.7 million.
“Our tourism sector is on course for a bumper year. These are the best results in five years, and in the last three years alone trips to Ireland have increased by almost half a million; that means there’s an extra 500,000 overseas visitors coming here to stay in our hotels and B&Bs, eat in Irish restaurants and visit attractions of all sizes, making a huge contribution to the local economy in counties like County Wicklow.
“There are some very encouraging trends revealed in the latest CSO figures. Since the start of this year, trips from North America are up by more than 12%. The American market is hugely important for Irish tourism, as US visitors are more likely to stay longer and spend more while they are here. Visits from the UK are also growing again, with an increase of 5.6% between March and May. The UK remains our most important market, and it is a vindication of the Government’s tourism strategy that the number of people coming here from the UK is on the rise.
“As part of the Gathering, the Government has also targeted a number of developing markets, particularly those in the long-haul sector. This approach is clearly working, with trips from Australia and New Zealand growing by an impressive 12.1% between March and May. There has also been strong growth across a broad range of countries closer to home including France (+26.3%), Germany (+6.1%), the Nordic countries (+6.0%) and Spain (+5.4%).
“A boost in tourism figures means a boost in jobs. More than 8,000 extra people are employed in tourism-related activities compared with early 2011, and I have no doubt that the growth in visitor numbers that we are currently experiencing will have a positive impact on job creation. The Gathering initiative, led by Tourism Ireland, is already paying significant dividends, and communities across the country deserve to be commended for their efforts in staging local festivals and events. In County Wicklow we have seen many great festivals and events organised by local communities and each of them deserves our gratitude. .
“As we head into the peak of the summer tourism season I am confident that this positive upward trend in tourism figures can continue, and that jobs can be created in hotels, pubs, restaurants and local attractions as a result. I will be continuing to work to ensure Wicklow is actively promoted and marketed as a tourism location by Tourism Ireland,”