Latest figures from Tourism Ireland show that 10.5 million people will visit the country in 2016
Latest figures suggest over 10 million tourists will visit the island of Ireland this year in what is being hailed as the “best year ever” for Irish tourism.
The figures, released by Tourism Ireland, show the industry will be worth over €5bn to Ireland this year.
Details of the tourism body’s 2017 marketing plan to promote the country overseas are being launched today and Tourism Ireland CEO, Niall Gibbons said there is still room to build upon the impressive figures:
The 10.5 million people that will visit by the end of the year represent an 11% increase on 2015.
International tourism is expected to be worth €5.4bn to the Irish economy this year - an increase of 10% on last year - and Tourism Ireland said the increased revenue is helping to sustain 263,000 jobs in communities across the island.
The tourism body is hoping to grow revenue by a further by 4.5% next year.
Mr Gibbons said having a strong online presence is hugely important in terms of marketing the country - with Tourism Ireland now the fourth most popular tourism board in the world on Facebook
“The digital side of our business is really important. Ireland.com this year will welcome nearly 19 million visitors, an increase of nearly 10% on last year,” he said.
“In relation to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube we rank in the top four countries in the world; on Facebook alone we had 740 million digital connections.”
With new flights coming in to Ireland from the US, Germany and Scandinavia as well as expanded services via the Middle East from 'long-haul countries,' Tourism Ireland is confident of sustaining growth next year.
A new television advertisement highlighting the island of Ireland will be unveiled this afternoon.
The ad will air from January in 23 markets around the world - including on national television across the United States and in cinemas in Britain.
“We are heading into 2017 in a position of some strength, based on the success of 2016,” said Mr Gibbons.
He said the upcoming campaigns will highlight “iconic experiences” like the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Titanic Belfast and the Causeway Coastal Route.
“We will also promote Dublin, in particular for shoulder and off-peak travel. Screen tourism will remain a priority, as we continue to capitalise on our connections with Star Wars and Game of Thrones,” he said.
2017 is expected to present some challenges for Irish tourism with the impact of Brexit expected to affect consumer confidence in Britain.
Britain remains Ireland’s largest market for overseas tourism and the depreciation of sterling against the euro since the Brexit referendum will mean value for money is a key message for Tourism Ireland in Britain next year.