Commenting on figures released by the CSO today (Wednesday March 14) for 2017, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said, “Today’s CSO figures are very positive, confirming that revenue from overseas visitors to Ireland grew by 6.5% during 2017, an additional €292 million for the Irish economy compared with 2016. Total overseas visitor numbers increased by 3.5%, and within the total number of overseas visitors to Ireland, holiday visitors grew by 8% during 2017 – 322,000 additional holiday visitors.
“Particularly welcome is the continued strong performance from North America, with visitor numbers up 16.3% and an increase of almost 14% in spending by US and Canadian visitors – an outstanding performance. Tourism Ireland’s market diversification strategy has prioritised North America as a market which offers strong return on investment. We have also seen growth in visitor numbers from Mainland Europe (almost +5%) and really strong growth from our long-haul markets, including Australia (almost +13%).
“The decline in visitor numbers from Britain continues to be a concern (-4.6% in 2017). The fall in the value of sterling has made holidays and short breaks here more expensive for British visitors and has made Britain more affordable for visitors from many of our top markets. This year, Tourism Ireland will continue to focus on our ‘culturally curious’ audience, who are less impacted by currency fluctuations. Competitiveness and value for money remain more important than ever right in Britain now.
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“Our focus now is very much on 2018. Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue this year by 5%, to €6 billion, for the island of Ireland. Our promotions will receive a tremendous boost over the coming days, with our Global Greening initiative for St Patrick’s Day, which is bigger and better than ever before. St Patrick’s Day traditionally marks the real start of the tourism season for us and we intend to take every opportunity to capitalise on Ireland’s heightened profile.”