UK visitors to Ireland spent €971m there last year
By Bernard Purcell
Last year was a record-breaking year for Irish tourism with 8.6 million trips made to Ireland. That’s nearly seven times (6.74 times) what visitors from North America spent in total.
And spending by visitors from the UK rose by 18 per cent in the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO).
UK visitors – the vast majority of whom are Irish people from Britain visiting families and friends – spent €33 million more between January and March 2016 than during the same period in 2015, marking a rise of 18.2 per cent.
There are at least 500,000 Irishborn passport holders in the UK and an estimated 6m people of Irish descent, many or most of whom would be eligible for an Irish passport.
Tourism bosses also hope that the visits last year and this year by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall will increase the numbers of English, Welsh and Scottish tourists to visit Ireland.
They also hope that this week’s extended Irish visit by US Vice President Joe Biden to his ancestors’ homelands in Dublin, Louth and Mayo will bring more US visitors.
Travellers from the UK spent €214 million in the first three months of this year compared to €181 million during the same period last year. The total spent by UK visitors to Ireland last year was €971 million. North Americans spent €144 million, a rise of €19 million on the previous year.
The overall number of overseas trips to Ireland by non-residents rose by more than 15 per cent, with 1,785 million trips in the first three months of the year, up 254 million on last year.
The duration of visitors’ stay in Ireland was unchanged with most visitors staying an average of 6.5 nights. Ireland’s total tourism and travel earnings during the first three months of 2016 rose by 18.7 per cent on the same period last year, increasing from €780 million to €926 million.
The number of Irish people travelling overseas increased by 13.1 per cent from 1.306 million between January and March 2015 to 1.478 million during the first three months of this year.
Ireland’s Central Statistics Office also revealed that overseas trips by Irish people were up 13.1pc for the first quarter of 2016. In the three months from January to March, Irish residents took 1.478 million overseas trips and increased their spending by 22 per cent.
Travel and tourism expenditure rose to €971m, up from €794m in the same period last year – or to more than €1.18 billion when all fares are included.
A survey by travel insurance provider Multitrip.com said Irish holidaymakers will spend up to €2,500 on their main holiday this year with 26 per cent of them planning to spend up to €5,000. Nearly half, 45 per cent, of respondents told Multitrip.com that they would take two or more foreign holidays in 2016, with 18 per cent planning three or more overseas breaks.
There were almost 1.7m Irish visits to Spain in 2015, according to CSO figures.