Question to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Dr Leo Varadkar, TD)
To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an overview of tourism performance in the year to date and his expectations for 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 7th November, 2013.
Tourism performance for the year to date has been very positive.
The most recent published figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that there were over 5.4 million overseas visits to Ireland in the nine month period between January and September 2013 representing a 6.4% increase on the corresponding period of 2012. All of our main target overseas markets show growth levels with the number of visits from Mainland Europe up 5.1% for the first nine months of 2013; the number of visits from Britain was up by 3.5%; the number of visits from North America was up by 14.6% for the first nine months while there was a 13.7% increase in the number of visits from other long-haul markets.
The overall target for the year of The Gathering was to increase the number of overseas visits by 325,000 and the data suggests we are well on target to achieve this. The general response to The Gathering at home and abroad has been overwhelmingly positive. Gatherings took place throughout the country and according to Failte Ireland, all tourism stakeholders including accommodation providers, carriers, restaurants and attractions are reporting positive results from the initiative.
In terms of next year, overall sentiment for travel to Ireland remains good. Tourism Ireland is currently finalising its Business Plan for next year and I will be launching their 2014 Marketing Plans in early December. Furthermore, I am confident that measures such as the retention of the lower vat rate for tourism services, the reduction of the air travel tax to zero and the increased air access to Ireland will ensure that Irish tourism continues to grow in 2014.