Between January and March in 2018 and the same period this year, tourism numbers in Ireland increased from 1.921 million to 2.027 million. Overseas visitors increased by 6 percent in the first 3 months of 2019.
Spending by tourists, however, fell from €1.08 billion to €1.02 billion in the same period. When fares are included, from €795 million to €763 million, a decrease of 4 percent over the same period.
According to Tourism Ireland Chief Executive Niall Gibbons, the North America market continues to perform very strongly with visitor and revenue numbers up by over 10 percent, but it is offset by falls in revenue elsewhere. This fall-off is being blamed on global economic uncertainty.
“I was out quite a bit in the markets in France and Germany and the feedback is that people were quite happy to travel, but there was a greater level of uncertainty about the place. We also had the gilets jaunes in France,” he said. “The fizz that was in the industry in 2018, with holiday visitors and revenue growing by 13 percent, we are now seeing a later booking pattern and more uncertainty despite the increase in volume.”
The Tourism Chief went onto say that the first quarter of the year had been dominated by the imminent departure of Britain from the European Union which was due to have happened on March 29. Also, the late Easter, which happened in the second quarter of the year, was also a factor in the decline in spending.
“Following several years of growth, we are very much aware that this year will be more challenging,” Gibbons explained. “Britain remains our most challenging market for the peak season. While we welcome the fact that visitor numbers from Britain are up 2 percent for January-March, we know that currency fluctuations and the Brexit extension continue to cause uncertainty and may affect travel demand for the summer season.”
The strength of the domestic economy is reflected in a robust 8 percent increase in the number of trips made by Irish residents abroad. They increased 1.599 million in the first quarter of 2018 to 1.727 million in 2019. The amount of money spent by Irish people overseas increased by more than 20 percent from €1,047 million in 2018 to €1,260 million when spending on fares is taken into account.