It has been another record breaking year for Irish tourism, as almost five million people came to visit the Emerald Isle in the first six months.
New figures from Tourism Ireland show an increase of over 6% in visitors to Ireland compared to the same period last year.
In fact, June 2018 was one of the best Junes ever recorded. The Summer Solstice month alone saw the arrival of over 1 million visitors.
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The Central Statistics Office figures prove there was also an increase in visitors from North America - with an increase of 10.7%.
Good news from @CSOIreland this morning ... overseas arrivals to Ireland are up 6.7% for the first half of 2018 pic.twitter.com/dlde15e5PY— Tourism Ireland (@TourismIreland) July 26, 2018CEO of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons says there are a number of reasons driving this growth
"A number of factors are working in our favour, including more airline seats than ever before, from more gateways across the US and Canada," he said.
"We’ve also seen excellent results from Mainland Europe, up 10.2% on January-June last year, with particularly strong performances from Germany (+21.2%) and Italy (+14%). Tourism Ireland has prioritised North America and mainland Europe, as markets which offer a strong return on investment, in terms of holiday visitors and expenditure."
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As for the suggestion that Brexit has caused the rise in visitors to Ireland, Gibbons said that it's "too early" to say if the increase illustrates a "long-term trend".
Ah, Northern Ireland’s 40 shades of green around Binevenagh ☘From all of us here @TourismIreland we hope you have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are! 📸(@lucille_eti) #loveireland #irland #irlande #irlanda #ireland #discoverireland #visitireland #instaireland #northernireland #loveni #weekend #coastline #causewaycoastalroute
“While we welcome the fact that arrivals from Britain are up 2.3%, it’s too early to say if this represents a turnaround in the long-term trend. We’re very conscious that British visitor numbers are still down more than 4% on the first six months of 2016. The impact of Brexit on outbound travel from Britain, therefore, remains a concern," he said in a release.
Visitor numbers from Australia are also up slightly, at 1%.
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"We look forward to seeing the impact of new long-haul flights on Irish tourism this summer, including the new Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing and the Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong, which both kicked off in June," Gibbons added.
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“We are determined to ensure that tourism growth continues. Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue in 2018 to €6 billion, for the island of Ireland.”