Tourist numbers remain steady but fears over cancelled US flights remain

Tourist numbers remain steady but fears over cancelled US flights remain
Tourists looking at the statue of Anne Moore after their arrival on a cruise liner into Cobh. Picture Dan Linehan

There was a 6.4% increase in visitors from North America and a 7.1% increase in visitors from long-haul markets. Mainland Europe visitors increased by 2.2%.

However, the CEO of Tourism Ireland is fearful that the cancellation of Norweigan Air flights from Cork, Shannon and Dublin to North America could adversely affect Ireland's tourist industry in the future.

Overall, the CSO figures for overseas visitors to Ireland from January to July 2019 showed that arrivals increased by 2.8% in the first seven months of 2019.

This was an increase on the previous year, with Ireland welcoming around 170,600 more tourists in 2019 compared to the same time in 2018. 

However, the month of July saw fewer visitors this year, with a fall of 0.5% compared to 2018.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said that the figures indicated a very mixed picture.

"Feedback from industry partners on the ground suggests weaker demand in the peak summer season and a late booking pattern, with concern being expressed for the remainder of 2019."

"The summer air access picture has been positive, with 2.5% more seats available. However, air access capacity has deteriorated during the year – with the discontinuation of Norwegian flights from New York, Boston and Toronto, the suspension of the Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing until 2020, and the cancellation of its service from Shenzhen, as well as the delayed delivery of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft," Mr Gibbons said.

Mr Gibbons also said that Brexit was impacting British tourists coming to Ireland. British visitors increased by just 0.5%. 

"Brexit certainly remains a very real and ongoing challenge, giving rise to consumer concern, particularly in Britain and some Mainland European markets. The fall in the value of sterling has made holidays here more expensive for British visitors – and has made Britain more affordable for visitors from many of our top markets. We will continue to monitor the situation closely with our industry colleagues."

However, Tourism Ireland are now focusing on targeting people interested in an autumn break. "Our €12 million autumn campaign is underway in markets across the world, highlighting compelling reasons to visit for the rest of the year. It aims to take advantage of late booking trends around the world, as there is still plenty of business to play for."

"Many people are opting for shorter holiday breaks and autumn is a really good opportunity, with many world-class festivals and events happening right around the island. A key objective for us is to drive more business to our regions, right throughout the off-peak and shoulder season months."

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