Tourists were unperturbed by Ireland’s wettest December in 130 years, as statistics show that visitor numbers increased over the winter months.
Data released by the Central Statistics Office(CSO) on March 30 revealed that overall visits to Ireland between December 2015 and February 2016 increased by 17.1 per cent, compared to the corresponding period of 2014/15.
Visits from Great Britain rose by 21.2 percent, while the number travelling from North America grew by 13 percent.
Whether it was Skellig Michael’s brief but significant appearance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the prominence of 1916 celebrations or just a host of cheap travel deals,those in the tourism industry were delighted with the news.
Minister for Transport,Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD said: “The data shows that the significant growth in overseas visit numbers witnessed in recent years is continuing into 2016.“While 2015 was a record year for Irish tourism, we are targeting even further growth in the years ahead.
“The visitor numbers released show that our ambitious policy is building from a strong base.
“All of our main overseas markets are showing good growth levels and I know that sentiment within the industry is very positive for the remainder of the year ahead.”
The impressive figures over the winter period will hopefully be followed by further positive results from spring, given the celebrations at that time.
Shaun Quinn, CEO of Ireland’s National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland, said: “While this visitor data relates to a small share of the overall season, it is nonetheless very encouraging, particularly when combined with industry reports of strong trading over both the St Patrick’s Festival and the Easter period.
“Obviously, the sector is very susceptible to external factors and consequently sustained tourism growth must be increasingly driven by the strength and international appeal of our brands, like the Wild Atlantic Way, and by ensuring that we continue to provide excellent value for money and top quality as in recent years.”