Tourism Continues To Boost Ireland's Economy
Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar, TD launching this year's St. Patricks Festival (Photocall)
Ireland's Minister for Transport, Transport and Sport Leo Varadkar, TD has welcomed the first tourism figures for 2012, which show that the number of visitors to Ireland continued to grow.
Visits for the period from November to January increased overall by 1.9% compared to the same period last year, reaching nearly 1.2 million for the period.
Visits from Britain were up 4.7% to 580,800.
Visits from the rest of Europe were up 3% to 404,400.
However, there was a decline in visits from North America of 5.4% and from the rest of the world of 9.4%.
"I am very pleased to see that 2012 has started off on a positive note for tourism. This follows the encouraging performance in 2011, which saw the first return to growth in visitor numbers over the year since 2007," Minister Varadkar said.
"Clearly the picture was mixed, with some markets performing better than others.
"A range of factors such as economic confidence, or uncertainty, in many of our source markets is evident in these figures with visits up 16.3% from Germany and down 5.1% from Italy.
"However, it is particularly important that we sustain growth in visits from Great Britain, our largest market for inbound tourism.
"I believe the continued growth from Britain shows that the British tourist recognises that Ireland is accessible, different and offers great value once again.
"The upcoming St Patrick's week events right across our key markets, along with the international launch of The Gathering Ireland 2013, the biggest ever tourism initiative in Ireland, will allow us to build on this good start to 2012."
Tourism Ireland will be 'greening' landmarks throughout the world, reinforcing the message that there has never been a better time to come and experience what Ireland has to offer.
He also announced upwards of €3.4 million in Fáilte Ireland funding for a series of high-profile international tourism and sporting events being held in Ireland this year including the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway, The Irish Open which is being held in Portrush this year, the Ladies Irish Golf Open in County Meath and Tall Ships 2012 in Dublin.
"The Volvo Ocean Race, the Tall Ships, and Bavaria City Racing will show the world that a small country like Ireland can host big events in style." he said.
"Other big events are also taking place like the Notre Dame vs Navy American football game.
"These events market Ireland as a sporting destination to amateur sports people around the world.
"The festivals and events held in 2010 attracted some 433,000 overseas visitors, generating €448 million in economic activity and supporting 9,000 jobs," he concluded.