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Tourism chiefs predicting bumper year with visitor numbers up 14pc


Charlie O’Farrell enjoys himself on Sandymount beach

Charlie O’Farrell enjoys himself on Sandymount beach

Damien Eagers

Charlie O’Farrell enjoys himself on Sandymount beach

The country's tourist industry is on course for a record year, with visitor numbers up 14pc on this time in 2014, according to the latest figures from the CSO.

More business trips were also undertaken here in the first three months of 2015, and overseas visitors are spending more money compared with this time 12 months ago.

Fáilte Ireland, the body with responsibility for promoting the country as a tourism destination, said the challenge was now to sustain the growth.

It added that social media websites would be targeted in a drive to sell Ireland abroad.

The figures from the CSO revealed the total number of overseas trips to Ireland by non-residents in the first three months of the year increased from 1.3 million in 2014 to 1.5 million this year.

This has resulted in earnings from foreign visitors also enjoying a bounce, increasing from €699m to €780m. Visitors are also staying longer on trips to the country.

The number of nights spent in Ireland by overseas travellers increased by 12.6pc - up from 8.9 million nights to 10 million.

In terms of nationalities visiting the country, Ireland is most popular among British visitors, who make up 41pc of non-residents across all visitor categories.

Almost half of all business trips here were by UK residents.

The numbers travelling from the US and Canada were also up on this time 12 months ago - likely aided by the strong performance of the dollar against the euro.

Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn said that on current trends, "we may be looking at a record year for overseas visitors in 2015" and said sustaining growth would be a key objective.

Michael Ring, junior minister with responsibility for tourism, said: "In line with the visitor numbers, revenues are showing growth from all our major markets. This represents an important boost to the tourism sector."

The figures also show the number of trips made by Irish residents overseas increased by 13pc in the first quarter of this year.

This resulted in a €70m increase in overseas spending.

The boost for the tourism sector comes as a group of over 20 international journalists visits Ireland.

They will partake in festivals being held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of WB Yeats in Sligo, before moving on to Dublin for the annual Bloomsday festivities in honour of James Joyce.

Irish Independent