We're on course for best ever year for tourism
Published 05/05/2015 | 02:30
Ireland could have its best ever year for tourism - despite the weather - experts say.
While the bank holiday weekend was a wash-out for many people, it hasn't stopped record numbers of people coming here from abroad.
Some welcome sunshine yesterday, particularly over the east of the country, gave a boost to the tourism industry from the domestic market.
However record numbers of people from Europe are pouring in to see us without a care in the world about our notoriously changeable climate.
"We are more a fun destination than a sun destination," explained Fáilte Ireland's Alex Connolly.
"There may have been fewer overseas visitors visible at times over the bank holiday weekend, but they are here and they are here in new record numbers.
"Growth in the first quarter of the year has been the best in 15 years and, based on bookings for the rest of 2015, we believe we could have our best year ever in terms of visitor numbers.
"We now offer value for money and quality and those put together are proving Ireland is a must-see destination," he added.
Record numbers of people are coming here this year from France, up 26pc; Italy, up 36pc; and Spain, up 28pc; so far in 2015.
Mr Connolly added: "Most tourists coming to Ireland know to pack a rain coat in their suitcase. At the end of the day we are not a sun holiday destination.
"When we do have good weather it is a lovely added bonus."
Almost 288,000 passengers passed through Dublin Airport over the bank holiday weekend as tourists jetted in and Irish tourists took advantage of the long the extra day off work to go away.
That was a 14pc increase on the same weekend last year with more than 2,100 flight arrivals and departures.
There were several new routes added to the schedule including a new direct Aer Lingus flight to Washington.
Here brighter sunnier weather yesterday drew large crowds out to the coasts, especially in the east where there were fewer showers.
But it is going to be wetter again today after overnight heavy rain for most areas, said Met Éireann.
The rain will clear to showers this morning, although it will persist in the north and north west. Some of the showers could be thundery.
Tomorrow will be cool with more showers and a risk of hail.