Irish tourism set for 'record year' as visitor numbers surge
Three million visitors so far in 2015
Overseas visitor numbers to Ireland grew by 12.1pc in the first five months of the year, according to CSO data released today.
The growth sets Ireland on a course for its best ever year in tourism.
"If this trend continues we will be looking at a record year for overseas visitor numbers," said Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe.
Ireland is now in its fifth consecutive year of growth in visitor numbers, with the economic recovery, expanding air routes, a 9pc VAT rate for the sector and marketing initiatives like the Wild Atlantic Way and The Gathering all apparently paying dividends.
2007 was Irish tourism's busiest year to date, with 7.7m visitors.
"These are very strong figures for the tourism sector and confirm what the industry has been saying to us over the last few months; business is very good and we may be looking at a record year for overseas visitors in 2015," said Shaun Quinn, CEO of Fáilte Ireland.
"Measures such as the 9pc VAT rate, the reduced 0pc Air Travel Tax and Visa measures have combined with the hard work of tourism enterprises to deliver stronger visitor numbers since 2011," added Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring.
"This growth is of enormous importance for the country considering the contribution tourism makes to the wider economy by supporting 250,000 jobs," said Tim Fenn, Chief Executive of the Irish Hotels Federation.
A record three million overseas visitors have visited so far in 2015.
Today's CSO data shows visits from North America up 13.6pc on the same period in 2014, visits from Mainland Europe up 14pc and visits from Great Britain - Ireland's single biggest tourism market - rising 10.1pc with 1.33 million visits.
"Today’s figures indicate that this was the best ever January to May period for overseas visitors to Ireland," commented Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland.
"Our aim is to ensure that 2015 is the best year ever for Irish tourism."
Tourism Ireland aims to attract 10 million visitors annually by 2025.