The Irish tourism industry is now worth €8.7bn to the economy after yet another record year.
The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) has said that overseas visitors spent nearly €5bn in the country last year – an increase of 6%.
The umbrella body representing Irish tourism interests is predicting further growth in 2018 – but has warned against complacency with Brexit continuing to cast a dark shadow in the years ahead.
ITIC chief executive, Eoghan O'Mara Walshe said that number of international visitors is continuing to rise - and they are also spending more while they are here:
“2017 has been a very strong year for Irish tourism, I mean overall the sector is worth €8.7bn,” he said.
“We had 8.9 million international visitors to our shores this year, that is 3% up in terms of volume – in terms of footfall – and 6% up in terms of revenue.
“So, it is a really important sector for Ireland at the moment; it employs 230,000 people right around the country.”
— ITIC (@Irishtourismind) December 28, 2017
He said American tourists spend on average just over €700 while they are in Ireland:
“Spending is up 6% compared to last year,” he said.
“Overall, international visitors spent just shy of €5bn in the country - €4.9bn.
“The markets that are further afield spent that bit more because they tend to spend longer in the country.
“So for example, the average American spent about €730 when they were here on holiday whereas the average British person spent under €300.”
What tourist spends the most when in Ireland? Americans spend 2.5 what the average British visitor spends. This and more on @Irishtourismind Review of 2017 & Outlook for 2018 https://t.co/0LcWAUkcVP #iticye17 pic.twitter.com/e5jJhpelfa
— Eoghan O'Mara Walsh (@EoghanOMW) December 28, 2017
Despite the encouraging figures, the UK market continues to decline in the wake of the Brexit vote:
“The only, if you like, cloud this year has been that of the British market and Brexit,” said Mr O'Mara Walshe.
“The British market is unfortunately down 7% so that is a concern but other markets such as America and Europe have performed very strongly.”
The tourism sector now employs 230,000 people nationwide.