Ireland experienced a massive 16.6% increase in visitors throughout the first quarter of 2016 with 10 percent of all US visitors to Europe gracing the island.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) indicate that this was the best March on record for Irish tourism.
With thanks to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the Easter Rising centenary commemorations, Ireland had its busiest January to March quarter and peak tourist season is still to come.
The biggest increase in travelers came from North America, whose numbers swelled by almost 25%. According to the CSO’s Overseas Travel survey, a total of 238,100 trips were made from North America to Ireland between January and March.
"Ireland now welcomes 10% of all American visitors to Europe," said CEO of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons.
"That's particularly noteworthy given the intense competition from other markets."
Fáilte Ireland CEO Sean Quinn believes the figures from the first quarter of the year are a promising sign for the busier summer season set to begin.
“Today’s figures signal a continued strong performance by the tourism sector, reflecting a very successful St. Patrick’s festival and an earlier Easter,” he said.
“These trends, along with current confidence levels within the sector, indicate a strong summer season ahead but we must keep competitive and avoid complacency to maintain current growth rates.”
There were further increases in the number of visitors from Great Britain and other parts of Europe. Residents from Great Britain made a total 851,700 trips in the first quarter, an increase of 17.3%, while 600,100 trips were made from the rest of Europe.
There was also an eight percent increase in visitors from places other than Great Britain, Europe and North America. This number increased from 88,300 to 95,400.
Overall, 1,785,300 trips were made to Ireland in the first quarter of 2016, up from 1,531,300 during the same time period in 2015.
Not only are the Irish welcoming an increased number of visitors to our shores this year, but we’re exploring the world ourselves at increased rates. The number of Irish taking a vacation abroad in the first quarter rose by 13.3% compared to this time last year. A total of 1,476,000 trips were made.
Irish tourism had a massive year in 2015 with US visitors alone spending $1.2 billion, a quarter of the total money spent by tourists in Ireland. American visitors are the Irish tourism industry’s most valuable asset.
According to Fáilte Ireland’s Chairman Michael Cawley, US tourists “stay longer and they spend more, in general, when they come a longer distance.”
An estimated 7.9 million visitors came to Ireland in 2015, which is expected to increase significantly again throughout the rest of this year.
It certainly looks that people have been making the most of the quieter tourism time at the start of the year: