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2016 record year for Irish tourism with 20,000 new jobs for sector

The Irish tourism industry is now worth over €8 billion.

A RECORD NUMBER of overseas tourists, 8.8 million people, came to Ireland in 2016 spending €4.7 billion.

That was a 9% increase, almost €600 million more compared to what was spent the previous year.

There was an increase of 10% in holiday visitors, while business visitors and those coming to visit friends and relatives were up 12%.

Domestic tourism demand also picked up generating an estimated €1.75 billion, with a further €300 million earned from visitors from Northern Ireland.

Paul Gallagher, ITIC chairman, said:

It has been a remarkable year for Irish tourism with record visitor numbers in both volume and value terms. 20,000 new jobs have been created in the sector in the last year and tourism is now Ireland’s largest indigenous employer.

Despite Brexit concerns and capacity constraints, ITIC believes that the tourism industry can grow by a further 5% in overseas visitors and 7% in export revenue for 2017.

However, growth is not guaranteed and there is much work to be done to underpin and sustain progress to date. Gallagher said:

Tourism has much more potential for Ireland, but only if the right strategies and investment policies are pursued. ITIC believes that, based on anticipated tourism revenue growth, at least a further 7,000 jobs can be created in the tourism industry in 2017.

“It is one of the few industries that provides regional balance and delivers jobs in all parts of the country”.

ITIC Chief Executive Eoghan O’Mara Walsh stressed the need for competitiveness as the UK decision to exit the EU is a major challenge for Irish tourism. O’Mara Walsh said:

A hard Brexit would be damaging to Irish tourism. It is vital that in the negotiations between the UK and the EU that Irish tourism’s needs are reflected.

“This particularly relates to the need to maintain the Common Travel Area and the retention of liberalised air access rights.”

Read: ‘Ireland would be the biggest loser from a breakup of the EU’: Irish MEPs on Europe’s future>

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