Fáilte Ireland has said that the Irish tourism industry can be optimistic after a robust start to 2016, but warned against complacency in the sector.
The agency has also published its annual Visitor Attitudes Survey which shows that overseas holidaymakers to Ireland last year continued to rate the country as good value for money and that the country matched or exceeded their expectations as a holiday destination.
The omens for a further boost to tourism this year remain good, as airline seat capacity and hotel occupancy rates - particularly in the capital - continue to grow.
Fáilte Ireland chief executive Shaun Quinn noted that external influences can have an negative effect on tourism and urged businesses to stay competitive to avoid a drop off if such occurrences affect the market.
“The signs look good and there is great cause for optimism within tourism this year but there are also good reasons not to be too complacent. The recent weakening of sterling in relation to the Euro means we have to remain vigilant with regard to competitiveness.
"Furthermore, recent incidents in Paris and Brussels have the potential for undermining travel confidence – particularly from the US. In Fáilte Ireland we are taking nothing for granted. That is why we are committed to events like tomorrow’s trade show and to working with Irish businesses to actively chase as much additional custom as we can.”
The Visitor Attitudes Survey showed once again that Ireland continues to be more competitive in terms of value for money. Some 63 per cent of visitors said that they found ‘good’ or ‘very good’ value in Ireland – a rise on 2014’s performance and a jump of 12 per cent from two years before.
Of the 'reasons for choosing Ireland' more than 90 per cent of respondents said the reason they choose Ireland was for its 'friendly people', 'beautiful scenery' and, interestingly, given the current international climate, 'safe and secure destination'.
When asked about their overall opinion of their Irish holiday, 56 per cent of respondents said that their trip met all their expectations while a further 44 per cent of holidaymakers said their holiday actually exceeded all expectations. In the latter category, North American holidaymakers were the most impressed with 55 per cent saying that their Irish holiday delivered beyond their expectations.
“These findings provide us with some useful insights into the performance of the tourism sector last year. It is particularly reassuring that we continued to provide good value for money to those who holidayed here," added Quinn.
"Ireland’s blend of people, places and pace of life delivers a unique holiday experience for all our guests but a strong level of competitiveness ensures that we attract visitors here in the first instance.”