Figures released earlier this week reveal that overseas tourism figures into Ireland for the first quarter, which does not include the Patrick’s Day festivals have shownan increase of +3%.
Commenting on the CSO figures issued today for overseas visitor numbers to Ireland for the three-month period December 2011 to February 2012, Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said, “Despite the global economic landscape of recent months, which continues to present a challenging environment for travel, I am pleased to see growth of almost +3% for the three-month period December 2011 to February 2012.
“It is a positive start to 2012. Particularly welcome is the growth of +6.6% in visitor numbers from Great Britain, our largest and most important market which delivers about 45% of all our overseas visitors.”
Gibbons continued, “We anticipate that growth in overseas visitors numbers for the first quarter of this year will be slow; however, overall sentiment and anecdotal feedback from tour operators and travel trade contacts in our key markets, as well as from people working in the tourism industry around Ireland, is cautiously optimistic – particularly for quarters two and three of 2012.
“Right now, we are rolling out an extensive first half marketing campaign around the globe, to build on last year’s return to growth.”
Overseas tourism has a critical role to play in contributing to Ireland’s economic recovery. It accounts for 59% (approximately €3.4 billion) of all tourism revenue and has the capacity to deliver even more for Ireland as part of an export-led economic renewal.
Tourism is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, contributing almost 4% of GNP and providing employment for over 200,000 people in every community throughout the island.