Tourist numbers increase 7.3%

By Claire O’Sullivan
Irish Examiner Reporter

A 7.3% increase in the number of tourists was recorded in the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year.

More than 1.34m people came here in January, February, and March, and the Department of Tourism is hopeful that the country is on course to meet its targets of 4% more visitors to Ireland and 8% more tourism revenue this year.

In the first three months, traffic from Britain was up 11.5%, German tourist numbers were up 13.5%, Spanish numbers increased 15.5%, and the number of Italians visiting these shores rose by 13.1%.

There was a 6% hike in visitors from the US, with tourism from the rest of the world, outside Europe and the US, up 17.5%.

Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said the figures suggest the country is “on target to grow visitor numbers again in 2014, and build on the success of The Gathering”.

Michael Ring, the junior tourism minister, said: “I am delighted with the figures published today. And while it was always going to be challenging to follow the success of The Gathering, initiatives like the Wild Atlantic Way can help us to continue to grow tourism to Ireland. It has massive potential to bring more visitors and more jobs to rural communities right along the western seaboard.”

According to Tourism Ireland, there is a lot to look forward to this year, including the Limerick City of Culture, the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia, and the Croke Park Classic, in which the University of Central Florida takes on Penn State in their college American football season opener.

Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn said the figures “signal another great year for tourism in terms of both visitors and revenue”.

“Despite fears that last year’s Gathering might prove to be a temporary bounce, tourism is actually growing beyond that impressive performance.”

According to the department, the number of overseas visitors to Ireland has increased from 6m in 2011 to 7m.

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