Thursday 19 September 2019

Irish Tourism in Numbers: From our most popular attraction to our least visited county... and more

New data from Fáilte Ireland provides a tantalising look under the hood of Ireland's tourism industry

The Cliffs of Moher. Photo: Deposit
The Cliffs of Moher. Photo: Deposit
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Did you know Longford is Ireland's least-visited county? Or that 32pc of tourists still think beer and potatoes are the standouts of Irish food?

Did you know most of our visitors come from Britain, that one in five is a solo traveller, or that they spend more on food and drink than accommodation?

Below is a select sample of figures extracted from 'Tourism Facts 2017', recently issued by Fáilte Ireland's research team, along with CSO data.


Passengers on their way to Dublin Airport's Terminal 2.

The total number of visitors to the Republic of Ireland in 2017.

This is a record number, up 3.2pc from the 8,742,000 who visited last year and from 6,286,000 in 2013. Separately, Tourism Ireland has estimated around 10.65 million visitors came to the island of Ireland in 2017.

Source: Fáilte Ireland / CSO


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Passengers from the 317m Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship on her maiden call to Dublin Wednesday, 10th May. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography.

Percentage of visitors coming to Ireland for the first time.

New arrivals continue to drive Ireland's tourism business... though attention is increasingly turning to how they might be encouraged to visit outside of peak months ('seasonality') and beyond honeypot areas ('regionality').

Read more: The Irish Bucket List: 30 things to do in Ireland before you die

Source: Fáilte Ireland / CSO


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Guinness Storehouse Brewing experience

Visitors to the Guinness Storehouse in 2017. The figures made it Ireland's No.1 paid visitor attraction last year, followed by the Cliffs of Moher and Dublin Zoo.

Read more on Ireland's Top 20 tourist attractions.

Source: Fáilte Ireland


Checking in... Photo: Deposit

Cent out of every tourist euro that ends up with the taxman. The tourism and hospitality industry employs an estimated 240,000 people.

Source: Fáilte Ireland


Dublin's Ha'penny Bridge. Photo: Getty.

The number of overseas tourists who visited Dublin last year, spending €1,981 million in the process. Dublin is the country's most visited county by far, followed by Galway (1,673,000 overseas visitors), Cork (1,600,000), Kerry (1,277,000) and Clare (749,000).

Read our Dublin Bucket List - 25 things to do in the capital!

Source: Fáilte Ireland/CSO


The number of overseas visitors to Longford last year, making it Ireland's least-visited county.

Those numbers will be expected to rise following the launch of a new tourism brand, Ireland's Hidden Heartlands, and the arrival of the first Irish Center Parcs resort in Longford Forest next year, however.

Read more on the Irish counties most (and least) visited by tourists.

Source: Fáilte Ireland/CSO


Grafton Street, Dublin. Photo:

The percentage of visitors to Ireland that come from Britain.

Despite Brexit, British visitors remain Ireland's single-largest tourism market, followed by Mainland Europe (36.1pc), North America (19pc) and others (6.7pc). However, British visitors only account for 21.3pc of overall tourism spend.

Source: Fáilte Ireland/CSO


US pre-clearance at Dublin Airport.

The amount spent by North American visitors in Ireland last year.

Though their numbers are less than half that of British visitors (who spent €1,046 billion last year), North American tourists are relatively high-spending. Their annual spend has jumped from €829 million in 2013 - fulled by the ongoing tourism boom and a growing number of transatlantic air routes.

More: Dublin Airport announces new direct flights to Dallas

Source: Fáilte Ireland/CSO


The total expenditure by tourists visiting Ireland in 2017.

This figure rose by 4.2pc on the previous year, and it swells further to €8.8 billion when domestic tourism and money paid to Irish carriers (e.g. airlines and ferries) is taken into account.

Source: Fáilte Ireland/CSO


Inis-Meain-IM_Rest_12 (2).jpg
Inis Meain Restaurant & Suites

The percentage of visitors who associate Irish food with beer and potatoes.

Asked what stands out when they think of Irish food and drink, 32pc of potential visitors said ‘beer’ and 15pc ‘potatoes’, according to a 2016 World Food & Travel Association survey.

Producers, chefs, restaurateurs and Fáilte Ireland are hoping to change that, in part with a new food tourism strategy aimed at "redefining the appeal of Irish cuisine."


The amount tourists spend on food and drink every year in Ireland.

This amounts to 36pc of their overall spend, according to Fáilte Ireland. Elsewhere, tourists spent 30pc on 'bed and board', 6pc on sightseeing and entertainment, 13pc on internal transport and 13pc on shopping.

Read more: The Irish Foodie Bucket List: 30 dishes worth travelling for

Source: Fáilte Ireland


Percentage of overseas visitors staying in hotels.

This compares to 8pc for guesthouses and B&Bs, 20pc for self-catering, and 27c for friends and relatives. Dublin has been squeezed for hotel space of late, but some 5,435 rooms are set to come on stream between 2028 and 2020, Fáilte Ireland says. However, this is still expected to leave a 1,100 room shortfall.

Read more: 12 most unusual places to stay in Ireland - from bubble domes to a self-catering pub

Source: Fáilte Ireland/CSO


New Fáilte Ireland Report Indicates Improved Hotel Bed Supply but Dublin Deficit Remaining by 2020 (2).jpg
Fáilte Ireland figures on Dublin hotels

Number of Fáilte Ireland-registered hotels in Ireland.

In addition, there are 190 registered guesthouses, 1,132 B&Bs, 2,721 self-catering premises and 90 hostels. And that's not even starting on Airbnb (below). 

Source: Fáilte Ireland


Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky launches Trips

The number of people who travelled in Ireland using Airbnb this summer (approx).

2018 was Airbnb's busiest ever summer in Ireland, it says, with hosts earning an average of €2,000 and Dublin, Galway, Killarney, Cork and Dingle its most popular destinations.

More: The Fab 50: Ireland's 50 best places to stay for 2018

Source: Airbnb


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Pure Camping, Loop Head, Co. Clare

Number of approved camping and caravan pitches in Ireland.

More: 10 top tips for camping in Ireland

Source: Fáilte Ireland/CSO


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Solo travellers are a new normal, not an inconvenience. Photo: Getty Images

The percentage of visitors to Ireland travelling solo/alone. 43pc came as part of a couple, 17pc with a family and 20pc with a group.

More: Going Solo: The rise of solo travel and the art of going it alone

Source: CSO / Fáilte Ireland


Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare, Ireland. Photo: Christopher Hill/Failte Ireland

Percentage of visitors who view Ireland's safety and security as an important factor when considering the country for a holiday.

97pc were satisfied in this regard.

Elsewhere, 92pc of visitors view 'friendly, hospitable people' as an important consideration for a holiday in Ireland.

Other considerations include beautiful scenery (92pc), a natural, unspoilt environment (87pc), history and culture (85pc) and an easy, relaxed pace of life (76pc).

Source: Fáilte Ireland

NB: Sources include Fáilte Ireland's data, its annual survey of overseas travellers, CSO data, and NISRA (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency).

Read more:

5,435 new hotel rooms for Dublin - but it's still not enough, Fáilte Ireland says

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