Irish tourism widens horizons after record-breaking year

Tourism Ireland will invest more in the US and European markets this year to offset “the adverse impact of Brexit” on visitor numbers from Great Britain.

Niall Gibbons (pictured), chief executive of the tourism body, said: “Since the EU referendum in the UK, Tourism Ireland has been monitoring developments closely, to better understand and plan for the implications of Brexit.

“Tourism Ireland believes that the adverse impact of Brexit can be mitigated through a combination of aggressive overseas marketing and the continuation of existing successful wider policy initiatives.

“In 2017, Tourism Ireland will continue to implement its market diversification strategy; the organisation intends to maximise holiday revenue through investment in Mainland Europe and North America.”

He said the fall of the pound against the euro since the Brexit vote means that “value for money will be a key message” for Tourism Ireland in Britain.

“The good news is that access from Britain to Ireland remains strong, with 237,000 airline seats and 45,000 car spaces on ferries available each week,” he said.

“We will continue to work with our industry partners, at home and in Britain, to highlight the ease of getting to the island of Ireland.”

His comments came as figures show that a record-breaking 9.6 million arrivals were recorded in 2016, an increase of 10.9% year-on-year – or 941,300 additional overseas visitors.

More than 3.9 million arrivals were recorded in 2016 from Great Britain – Ireland’s largest market – representing growth of 10.6%.

Numbers from the US and Canada soared by more than 19% to 1.8 million arrivals.

There were 3.3 million arrivals from Mainland Europe, up 8.5%.

Tourism Ireland will highlight experiences such as the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Titanic Belfast and the Causeway Coastal Route during 2017, as well as its connections with Star Wars and Game of Thrones.

“Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue in 2017 by 4.5%, to €5.7 billion, for the island of Ireland,” said Gibbons.