The Cliffs of Moher

New figures from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) show an increase in the number of visitors to Ireland. The figures also showed that the number of tourists visiting Ireland from Britain have increased by 4.7 percent.

Overall, the CSO figures show a 1.9 percent increase between November and January, when compared to 2011 figures for the same period. This three month period saw a total of 1,195,400 visitors arriving to Ireland. This is compared to 22,800 from the previous year.

Britain’s visitors increased by 4.7 percent (508,800 visitors) while the rest of Europe rose by three percent (404,400).

The number of tourists flying out of the United States decreased by 5.4 percent to 141,900, while visitors from elsewhere, excluding North America and Europe, dropped by 9.4 percent.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said these figures are a “positive start” to 2012.

“Despite the global economic landscape of recent months, which continues to present a challenging environment for travel, I am pleased to see growth of almost 2 per cent for the three-month period.”

Mr Gibbons said that overall sentiment and anecdotal feedback from tour operators and travel trade contacts in key markets, as well as from people working in the tourism industry around Ireland, was “cautiously optimistic”.

Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar said he was pleased that the year had started off on a “positive note for tourism”.

However, he also noted, “Clearly the picture was mixed, with some markets performing better than others.

"A range of factors such as economic confidence, or uncertainty, in many of our source markets is evident in these figures."