Record year for tourism as visitors spend €7bn
Published 31/12/2015 | 02:30
Record numbers of tourists visiting Ireland helped to generate more than €7bn for the economy in 2015.
The growth is expected to continue in 2016 and create another 6,800 jobs across the sector.
More than eight million people from abroad visited Ireland last year, a record that represents a 14pc increase on the previous year.
However, the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (Itic) is warning capacity issues threaten to stunt further growth.
It said Dublin is particularly short of bedrooms and accommodation for tourists.
Itic Chairman Paul Gallagher said more accommodation was needed in the capital to sustain future growth.
"We believe that approximately 5,000 bedrooms are needed by 2020," he said.
"A successful Dublin is vital for tourism to prosper throughout Ireland," he added.
"Dublin has significant constraints and visitor number targets will not be met unless the deficit in hotel bedroom development is addressed with some urgency."
Despite the capacity issues, Itic is confident further growth is possible next year.
Overseas visitors generated more than €4bn for the economy last year, €600m more than in 2014.
Domestic tourism also picked up, with a 6pc increase boosting spending to €1.6bn.
Itic said the industry should grow by a further 5pc next year as airlines add capacity and new routes to their charters.
However, Mr Gallagher stressed that further investment was needed.
"Ireland remains a high cost location and addressing our competitiveness must remain a key priority for Government and the tourism industry," he said.
"Based on projected tourism revenue growth of 5pc, at least a further 6,800 jobs can be created in the tourism industry in 2016," he added.
Itic Chief Executive Eoghan O'Mara said Ireland needs to capitalise on a number of favourable factors to sustain growth.
"A loss of competitiveness represents the single largest threat to the sector," he said.
"A number of external factors have also been in Ireland's favour, including healthy economies fuelling a strong demand for travel in our key source markets, favourable exchange rates and increased capacity on air and sea services to Ireland."