Overseas visitor numbers hit a new high in 2015, surpassing the previous record year of 2007, according to a new analysis of tourism statistics undertaken by ITIC.
The most comprehensive analysis published for some time shows that the number of arrivals was up 14% year on year while revenue increased by a remarkable 19%.
The results for 2015, which far exceeded official forecasts, benefitted from a favourable external environment including improved economic and consumer confidence in the main source markets coupled with the strength of the US dollar and the pound sterling. The competitive positioning of the Ireland offering continued to be good, although under rising cost pressures, while the carriers embarked on a bullish expansionist strategy with increased capacity and highly competitive fares.
The degree to which pent up demand in the marketplace contributed to the double digit growth is unknown. Ironically the fillip in demand follows a number of years of a decline in state investment in destination marketing, which over time is bound to have an adverse impact on growth – already there is evidence of Ireland losing share of voice in key markets.
The growth in arrivals was driven largely by a 20% increase in holiday visitors with a 28% increase in their associated expenditure in the country. This is especially heartening as it is this segment of the market which is the primary target of the state funded destination marketing campaigns. Private investment by tourism businesses in online and in market promotions is also reported to have expanded in scale and effectiveness in recent years as trading improved.