Spending by overseas visitors to Ireland down 4pc for first quarter of 2019
Spending by overseas visitors to Ireland is down 4pc in the first three months of 2019, according to figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
When travel fares are excluded, expenditure by tourists decreased to €763m during the period, from €795m in the same period last year.
Spending by tourists from all markets is down, with the exception of North America.
In addition, there was a fall in the number of nights tourists spent here during the period.
Tourists from overseas spent an average of six nights here in the three months to 31 March, down from six and a half nights in the same period last year, according to the CSO.
The chairperson of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC), Ruth Andrews, warned that trading conditions for tourism and hospitality businesses were more challenging this year, and she said there was an onus on Government to improve the competitiveness of Irish tourism.
Ms Andrews said the CSO figures confirm industry sentiment on the ground: “Latest official tourism numbers highlight the impact of increased costs and Brexit uncertainly on tourism businesses throughout the country,” she added.
However, there has been an increase in the number of visitors to Ireland.
In the three months to 31 March the number of overseas trips to Ireland increased to 2.027 million from 1.921 million in the comparison period in 2018, an increase of 5.5pc year-on-year.
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “[The] figures from the CSO confirm that overseas visitor numbers grew by 6pc in the first three months of 2019.”
“However, spend is down 4pc, with North America the only market area showing revenue growth. Visitor numbers from Mainland Europe and long-haul markets are up – but they spent fewer nights here, so spend by those visitors is down,” he added.
Despite concerns around Brexit and fluctuations in the value of sterling, visitor numbers from Britain were up 2pc year-on-year in the three month period.
“While we welcome the fact that visitor numbers from Britain are up, we know that currency fluctuations and the Brexit extension continue to cause uncertainty and may affect travel demand for the summer season,” Mr Gibbons added.
Elsewhere, and the number of trips made by Irish residents overseas increased by 8pc year-on-year in the three month period, while total tourism and travel expenditure by Irish residents overseas increased by 20.3pc to €1.2bn.