Thursday 19 September 2019

Home and away: Irish are travelling in boom-era numbers

George Clooney met his Abbeyleix relations Seamus and Agnes Clooney on trip to Co Laois
George Clooney met his Abbeyleix relations Seamus and Agnes Clooney on trip to Co Laois
Family visit: Amal and George Clooney

David Chance

The number of Irish tourists heading overseas has staged a comeback close to levels not seen since before the financial crisis hit, according to the Central Statistical Office.

For the first three months of this year, residents here made 1.72 million trips overseas compared with 1.76 million trips in the first quarter of 2008. In March alone, there were 634,000 overseas trips - a rise of 13.5pc from a year ago.

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Those buoyant numbers were reflected in Ryanair passenger data for March that showed numbers rose 9pc to 10.9 million overall.

Even as more of us headed overseas, foreign visitor numbers coming here also rose, even though the number of British visitors arriving in March fell to the lowest level for that month since the country's 2016 vote to exit the EU.

The data showed that overall tourist numbers rose 3.3pc from March 2018 to 784,700 even as the number of British tourists fell by 3.1pc to 284,300 while trips from other European countries rose by 7.3pc to 289,500.

A 10.7pc surge in visitor numbers from the United States and Canada to 175,200 more than offset the lower numbers from the UK as an additional 17,000 visitors from North America came here versus 9,000 fewer Britons.

April's tourism numbers from the US will be boosted by Hollywood actor George Clooney, his wife and two children who spent time in Co Laois at this month.

The value of the pound fell sharply in the wake of the Brexit vote which has made holidays here more expensive for British visitors, although it has recovered somewhat this year.

UK visitors still accounted for the bulk of the more than two million people who came to Ireland in the first quarter at 809,100.

Irish Independent

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