Huge boost in numbers of foreign tourists visiting Ireland
Céad mile fáilte
St Patrick’s Festival and 1916 centenary celebrations are being credited with helping to create the best every first quarter for Irish tourism.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show an increase of 16.6pc in the overall number of foreign tourists visiting here between January and March compared with the same period last year.
The figures show the first quarter was the busiest ever for Irish tourism, with the best ever month of March also recorded.
The biggest increase was amongst visitors from North America, whose numbers swelled by almost 25pc to 238,100 trips taken, according to the CSO’s Overseas Travel survey.
"Ireland now welcomes 10pc of all American visitors to Europe," said Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland. "That's particularly noteworthy given the intense competition from other markets."
Failte Ireland CEO Sean Quinn said the figures bode well for the upcoming peak tourist season.
“Today’s figures signal a continued strong performance by the tourism sector, reflecting a very successful St Patrick’s festival and an earlier Easter,” he said.
“These trends, along with current confidence levels within the sector, indicate a strong summer season ahead but we must keep competitive and avoid complacency to maintain current growth rates,” he added.
The strength of the American dollar as well as the lure of the St Patrick’s Festival were also factors contributing to the growth in the number of North American visitors, he added.
Meanwhile, the number of visitors from the UK and the rest of Europe continued to grow over the same period.
Residents from the UK took 851,700 trips here – an increase of 17.3pc – while the number of visitors from elsewhere in Europe increased by 14.1pc to 600,100 trips.
The number of Irish residents taking a winter/spring break abroad also increased by 13.1pc to 1,476,900 trips this year compared with the same period last year.