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    Irish appeal remains strong as tourism continues to recover

    Irish appeal remains strong as tourism continues to recover
    Tour Operators visiting Westport House on their Wild Atlantic Way fam trip

    As Ireland’s biggest tourism trade fair opens this week, latest Fáilte Ireland research shows strong satisfaction levels from overseas holidaymakers

    Top line trends from the annual Visitor Attitudes Survey, conducted by Millward Brown on behalf of Fáilte Ireland, show overseas holidaymakers continue to rate Ireland as value for money and that our people, scenery and culture remain our strongest assets. The full survey, conducted with 1,514 overseas visitors to Ireland throughout 2013, is due to be published in the coming weeks. The findings were welcomed by Minister for Transport and Tourism Leo Varadkar TD who said they will inform tourism development for the next few years.

    Almost four out of ten (39%) overseas visitors reported that their experience in Ireland exceeded their expectations while a further six out of ten (60%) said that Ireland met their expectations. When surveyed, those whose holiday exceeded their expectations cited a number of reasons for this, including:

    • Irish people – 68%
    • Scenery – 54%
    • Irish history and culture – 31%
    • Weather better than expected – 30%
    • Food quality and variety – 21%

    Will they be coming back? Over half (56%) said they would definitely return in the next few years while a further four out of ten hoped to return at some time in the future. While most visitors expressed some level of intent to recommend Ireland to family and friends, an impressive two thirds (66%) of visitors expressed the strongest level of endorsement and said they would definitely be encouraging friends and family to come here. Encouragingly in the long haul market, eight out of ten (79%) of North Americans said they would definitely be endorsing Ireland.

    Minister Varadkar said -

    “With more than half of all visitors planning to return, these findings are very encouraging and show that the twin attractions of Irish people and place are still working. The Government’s policy of giving people great things to see and do in Ireland, combined with key economic measures like the 9% tourism VAT rate, and selling this to overseas visitors, does seem to be working. I’m encouraged that Ireland is still a value for money destination. As tourism recovers, we must resist the temptation to fall back into the habits we saw during the boom. It’s imperative that we maintain our good value and warm welcome to ensure a sustainable recovery in the sector.”

    Anticipating Ireland’s largest tourism trade fair, Meitheal, which takes place this week, Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn emphasised -

    “A recovery in both profitability and employment in the tourism sector is now quite evident and the prospects for the year ahead are really strong. The 500 Irish companies attending our ‘Meitheal’ Travel Trade Show are very optimistic for 2015 and the initial reaction from the 200 top travel buyers in Dublin this week is equally upbeat.

    “The tourism industry has played, over the last year, a significant role in Ireland’s economic recovery. As the sector continues to shift from the domestic market to a greater focus on more lucrative high value overseas visitors, it will bolster its contribution to the country’s overall recovery.”

    The survey also indicates that Ireland is maintaining the good value it has offered over the last few years. With regard to value for money, over half of overseas visitors (51%) of overseas visitors found Ireland to be good or very good value while a further four in ten (39%) found the value for money levels here to be fair.

    Food and drink costs, once a bugbear during the Celtic Tiger years, were mentioned as competitive disadvantages by only 9% of visitors (down further on last year where drink costs had been cited by 16% and food costs by 13%).

    What exactly did our overseas visitors get up to in Ireland in 2013? When surveyed, the top five experiences mentioned by overseas visitors were:

    • “Listened to live music in a pub” – 83%
    • “Visited a coastal town” – 82%
    • “Tasted a Guinness” – 79%
    • “Visited a food or craft market” – 49%
    • “Took part in a city tour” – 41%

    Finally, there was an interesting spike in the proportion of overseas holidaymakers who mentioned word of mouth as an influence to choose Ireland to visit last year (from 28% in 2012 to 36% in 2013).  This, and a noticeably higher proportion of respondents travelling with family than in previous years reflects a strong “Gathering” influence in the complexion of the overseas visitors who visited us last year.

    Today’s research emerges as the tourism industry prepares for this Tuesday’s (8th April) Meitheal, Ireland’s largest travel trade workshop in the RDS, Dublin.  There will be 200 key international buyers from 17 countries attending the event which offers these overseas buyers the chance to meet with almost 500 Irish businesses through approximately 13,000 scheduled one to one pitching and business opportunities.

    In addition to this week’s trade fair, Fáilte Ireland has organised a number of fact-finding tours around Ireland for overseas operators taking part in Meitheal this year, providing them a unique opportunity to sample the sights and sounds that Ireland has to offer their customers.

    Meitheal, a central date in the tourism industry calendar, is now in its thirty–ninth year and has gone from strength to strength with countries from all around the world represented at this year’s event – including Ireland’s top four markets  the US, UK, Germany and France. Delegates are also arriving from as far afield as China, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Norway.

    Follow us on Twitter @Fáilte_Ireland

    ENDS

    For further information please contact:

    Alex Connolly – Head of Communications
    086 7966320/01 8847884

    Louise Tolerton - Press Officer
    086 6086578/01 8847135


    Note for Editor

    Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, was established in 2003 to guide and promote tourism as a leading indigenous component of the Irish economy.

    The tourism and hospitality industry employs an estimated 200,000 people and generates almost €5.7 billion in revenue a year. 

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