A record number of passengers used Dublin Airport last year, but there are growing signs that tourism is softening
Dublin Airport welcomed 32.9 million passengers in 2019, rising 4pc to set a new annual record for traffic, it has said.
However, a strong first-half performance gave way to more modest growth as the year progressed. Last November saw the airport record a year-on-year dip, for instance - its first monthly decline since March, 2014.
“Dublin Airport had its ninth consecutive year of passenger growth in 2019 and this has had a hugely positive impact on the entire Irish economy,” said Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison.
This year will see 12 new routes, including direct flights to Cairo with EgyptAir, and the return of Cathay Pacific's suspended service to Hong Kong, now set to resume on March 28.
The news comes as the CSO this week unveiled its tally of overseas visitor numbers to Ireland for 2019 - showing a modest rise of 1.8pc to 10.8m visitors during the year.
“2019 has presented a mixed picture for Irish tourism," commented Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons, who said the figures reflect feedback from industry partners on the ground "who have seen weaker demand this year".
By contrast, visitor numbers to Ireland rose 6.9pc in 2019.
Transatlantic air access has dropped this winter, Gibbons noted, a fact showing in a "disappointing decline" of -5pc for North American visitors in December.
Tourism Ireland has already started its 2020 campaigns, including a new 'Green is the new black' initiative - a time-limited sales period modelled on Black Friday that is set to launch around the Global Greening and St Patrick's Day.
Unsurprisingly, Brexit also remains a concern.
“Our industry now faces heightened uncertainty and remains vulnerable to external shocks," said Irish Hotels Federation President Michael Lennon.
The IHF is calling for "decisive action" on the costs of doing business in a tourism policy document published ahead of the General Election.
As a whole, the tourism industry is calling for the re-instatement of the 9pc VAT rate, improved competitiveness measures and appropriate state investment from politicians on the hustings.