FOR THE FIRST time, the total annual earnings of the Irish tourism industry will exceed €7 billion.
The figure (€7.3 billion to be exact) was released today as part of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation’s (ITIC) review of 2015 and outlook for next year.
Overseas tourists spent just over €4.1 billion in Ireland in 2015, a 16% increase – or almost €600 million more compared to the previous year.
Irish air and sea carriers earned a further €1.3 billion from tourists. Domestic tourism demand also picked up with an estimated 6% increase in spending, up to €1.6 billion, with a further €300 million earned from visitors from Northern Ireland.
The number of overseas visitors grew by 14% to top eight million people – the highest number on record.
The ITIC said there was an increase of 20% in holiday visitors, while business visitor numbers were up by 10%, and those coming to visit friends and relatives grew by 2%.
“It has been a remarkable year for Irish tourism with record visitor numbers in both volume and value terms,” ITIC chairman Paul Gallagher said.
Tourism businesses currently are estimated to employ in excess of 220,000, with over one in every five new jobs created since 2011 having come in the tourism sector.
Gallagher noted that, based on projected tourism revenue growth of 5%, at least a further 6,800 jobs can be created in the tourism industry in 2016.
Lack of hotels
The ITIC warned that capacity issues “represent a potentially serious constraint to continued growth”, particularly in terms of a shortage of hotels in Dublin and other urban centres.
Dublin has significant capacity constraints and visitor number targets will not be met unless the deficit in hotel bedroom development is addressed with some urgency.
“ITIC is of the view that approximately 5,000 bedrooms are needed by 2020 and we await Fáilte Ireland’s report on this area,” Gallagher said.