Ireland welcomed a record 10.6m overseas visitors in 2018

Ireland welcomed a record 10.6m overseas visitors in 2018

Overseas visitors to Ireland grew by 6.9% to 10.6 million in 2018, according to results released today by the CSO.

This means an extra 680,000 visitors came to Ireland in 2018 compared to the previous year.            

The CSO data released today shows:
• Overseas visitors to Ireland increased by 8.2% for the month of December with strong growth recorded from both North America (+18.7%) and Mainland Europe (+16.5%) for December. Visitors from Britain were down by 1.4% in December.
• British visitors increased by 0.8% to 3.76 million visitors for the full year 2018.
• North American was the strongest growing region in 2018 with visitors from here up by 13.4% to 2.38 million.
• Mainland Europe increased by 9.5% to 3.81 million visitors, with Germany (+20.0%) and Italy (+12.6%) the top performers.
• Visitors from all other areas (661,000) grew by 6.7%.

Responding to today’s CSO figures, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly said:

“Today’s CSO figures show that Ireland’s tourism industry experienced its most successful year ever on record. At Fáilte Ireland, we have been very much focused on driving a more seasonal spread of these growing tourist numbers, which is vital in helping tourism businesses to stay open longer. This strategy, including our season extension programmes in local towns across the country, are paying dividends which is evidenced in the strong growth recorded in the final months of the year. Our own industry barometer reflects this growth, with tourism businesses telling us that a strong autumn season boosted their overall annual performance.

“Despite the fact that Britain has been underperforming as a result of the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, visitor numbers remain high. Fáilte Ireland has also been working closely with tourism businesses to diversify into other markets to offset this dip in performance from our biggest source market. The strong growth we’ve seen in the North American and German markets in particular, as well as continued growth in new and emerging markets, is testament to the tourism industry’s ability to adapt and diversify. 

“Our December barometer also shows that the number one concern among tourism businesses in the year ahead is Brexit, particularly those in northern counties. At Fáilte Ireland we are significantly ramping up our activities to ensure Irish tourism is both ‘product-ready’ and ‘industry-ready’ ahead of the UK withdrawal from the EU, with a €5million fund to support the sector as it prepares for Brexit. It is crucial now that the industry remains as competitive as possible despite ongoing cost pressures. There is no doubt that Brexit poses a significant threat to the ongoing success of our tourism industry and, with the increasing likelihood of a no-deal, as well other unforeseen political and economic developments in the US and Northern Europe, the sector will need to continue to show agility and resilience in the months ahead.”

Overseas Visitors January to December 2018
Staying and same day visits (000)
  2017 2018 % change
Britain 3,729 3,759 0.8
North America 2,102 2,384 13.4
Mainland Europe 3,482 3,813 9.5
France 549 565 2.8
Germany 681 818 20.0
Italy 363 409 12.6
Spain 443 443 0.0
All Other Europe 1,445 1,578 9.2
Other Areas 619 661 6.7
Australia/New Zealand 209 228 9.4
Other long haul 411 432 5.2
Total Overseas 9,932 10,616 6.9
       Source: CSO Overseas Travel, 28 January 2019

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