The tourism industry of Ireland is looking ahead to 2015 after spectacular increases this year according to the tourism board’s annual review.

Among the interesting figures in Fáilte Ireland’s Annual Tourism Industry Review was the fact that the number of tourists arriving from North America increased by 15%. This is the second year in a row for double digit growth in this sector.

Confidence regarding continued growth for 2015 is being boosted by dramatically improving overseas markets, increased air access and recent ‘big ticket’ initiatives such as the Wild Atlantic Way.

Speaking in Dublin, Fáilte Ireland Chairman Michael Cawley said, “All markets showed healthy growth and with increases in air access facilitating record numbers from the US and a return to increased visitors from Britain and continental Europe. The substantial increase in revenue from tourism has ensured that the sector has more than played its part in boosting economic recovery.”

He continued, “Fáilte Ireland is projecting an increase of 6% in overseas tourists in 2015 and I am confident that if we maintain competitiveness and continue to invest in tourism infrastructure, that the sector will generate record levels of revenue and create thousands more jobs next year”.

The main points of the review include:

- visitor numbers at pre-recession levels – on a par with the second best year ever

- some $500m (€400m) jump in overseas earnings in 2014 is the biggest increase in a decade

- 5,000 tourism jobs created this year and 8,000 more anticipated in 2015

- value for money ratings have doubled in five years

During 2014, visitor numbers grew by an estimated 9% while foreign earnings are projected to be up 13%, an increase of approximately $500m (€400m), adding to the overall upbeat mood in the industry. Indeed, business sentiment is now virtually a mirror image of the situation back in 2008 with seven out of ten tourism operators now anticipating growth.

Ireland’s value for money rating has now doubled since 2009 and nine out of ten holidaymakers are now expressing satisfaction – with six out of ten overseas holidaymakers rating value as good and an additional three out of ten rating it as fair.

The improvement in value for money is particularly noteworthy as the projected growth for overseas earnings, at 13%, is well ahead of the estimated 9% growth in numbers of overseas tourists visiting Ireland. In other words, more tourists are coming to Ireland and are spending more than ever before.