THE NUMBER OF trips taken by residents of Great Britain to Ireland fell by over 40,000 in the three months from March to May when compared with the same period last year.
A total of 687,800 visits were made by people from Great Britain, showing a decrease of 5.7 per cent in the year, according to the latest figures from the CSO.
That decline was offset by an increase in the number of trips taken by those from North America and the rest of Europe. Overall, the total number of visits made to Ireland decreased by just 1.1 per cent (or 18,000) to 1.6 million.
The larger decline in visits from Great Britain could be explained in part by Queen Elizabeth II’s visit last year as the number travelling to Ireland around that time increased dramatically. This year’s figure is still greater than what was seen in 2010.
However, Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons, said the British market is proving difficult. “Many GB residents are opting for ‘staycations’ and travel by Britons to all destinations in Western Europe is down 3 per cent for the first four months of the year,” he said.
The groups hopes that its ‘Escape the Madness’ campaign targeting eight million Londoners during the Olympic Games combined with the value of the euro against sterling will help attract more British tourists.
Gibbons said the global economic landscape continues to present a challenge for travel and tourism but added that there are a number of “encouraging indicators”, including growing business from mainland Europe and the developing markets of China and India.
Visitor numbers from Germany are up about 10 per cent, while there are about 6 per cent more French people making the journey. Growth in numbers from these countries, as well as Italy, Benelux, the Nordic Region and Australia, is expected to continue through the summer months.
The rebound in the US and Canadian markets was also welcomed. Over 250,000 visits were recorded by people residing in North America as the value of the dollar against the euro had a positive effect on outbound travel.
Commenting on today’s figures Transport Minister Leo Varadkar noted that already 2.3 million overseas visits have been made to Ireland so far this year.
“However, we cannot afford to be complacent,” he said. “The entire tourism sector must keep fighting for business.”