25th February 2016
By Bryan T. Smyth
Hoteliers in Cork have welcomed the strong growth in overseas travel to Ireland announced today (link to CSO figures), with trips to Ireland up 18.4% year on year for the period November 2015 – January 2016.
On foot of a record year in tourism in 2015, growth in overseas visitors is particularly visible among visitors from North America, with trips up 19.4%. Significant growth is also being seen from Britain (up 17.5%) and the rest of Europe (up 21.1%) – which are vital overseas markets for Irish tourism.
The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) says that this growth is of enormous importance for the country considering the contribution tourism makes to the wider economy, having created over 33,000 additional jobs since 2011 thanks to a number of key pro-tourism initiatives. Tourism now employs over 19,000 people in Cork and contributes €600m to the local economy each year.
Important tourism initiatives in recent years include the 9% VAT rate, which has brought Ireland more closely in line with tourism VAT rates in other European countries with which we compete – making Ireland more competitive when marketing the country internationally as a tourism destination. Other important measures include the zero rate air passenger tax, support for improved air access and connectivity, and the liberalisation of the visa regime for visitors from selected markets.
According to the IHF, hotels and guesthouses are also seeing increased business from the domestic market with more Irish people taking holidays and short breaks at home. This is very important for regional tourism and provides a boost for tourism businesses that rely on the home market, particularly outside of the larger urban areas and traditional tourism hotspots.
Tourism now employs over 205,000 people throughout the country, equivalent to 11% of total national employment. It accounts for 4% of GNP and last year generated €7.3 billion in revenue for the economy and €1.8 billion in taxes – thereby supporting the local economies of every village, town and county.