WHILE MINISTER FOR Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar is welcoming a slight rise in the number of visitors coming to our shores, Tourism Ireland is describing the lastest CSO figures as “flat”.
Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons has said that the number represent a “challenging environment for travel to Ireland”.
Three million tourists came to Ireland in the first half of 2012, with a 0.7 per cent rise from April to June.
Varadkar said that the figures “show that everyone’s efforts are paying off in the face of continuing economic uncertainty”.
Last month Irish hoteliers said there has been a disappointing start to the summer tourism season.
Gibbons meanwhile welcomed what he called encouraging indicators – particularly the improved performance in the second quarter, and the increase in visitor numbers from Germany, Italy and the Nordic region.
Visitors from Australia and New Zealand are up nine per cent, while emerging markets like China and India are up 5.5 per cent.
The British market is identified by Tourism Ireland as a difficult problem to overcome, with many people choosing a ‘staycation’ rather than a trip across the Irish Sea.
Trips from North America are down too – 1.8 per cent for the first half of 2012.
Both Varadkar and Gibbons highlight the importance of the current campaigns to attract visitors from Britain during the Olympics.