Visitor numbers to Ireland (26 counties) predicted to hit 9.6m by end of 2018

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  • Failte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly: “Probably the most successful year for Irish tourism ever” 
  • Europe air access growing by 6pc in 2019
  • North America air access to grow by 7pc next year
  • Pace of growth to slow to 3pc next year

Failte Ireland is expecting end-of-year visitor numbers to hit more than 9.6m by the end of this year.

Launching the tourism body’s plans for 2019, CEO Paul Kelly is predicting a 3pc growth in visitors – or 5p in a best-case scenario – in the coming year, following 7pc growth in 2018.

He believes that Ireland faces a number of challenges next year, namely Brexit, the rise in VAT to 13.5pc and pinch points in accommodation supply.

CEO Paul Kelly launches Failte Ireland’s plans for 2019, Croke Park, Dublin, November 12 2018

Paul Kelly said: “The return of the 13.5pc VAT rate will be a significant commercial challenge for tourism businesses, and the resulting upward price pressure could damage our international competitiveness.” But he added that he sees “significant grounds for growth”, given increased air access and the rise of global tourism.

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Speaking at the launch, Tourism Minister Shane Ross argued that his department had fought hard to keep the VAT rate at 9pc in the recent Budget.

The launch event in Croke Park was also attended by over 300 key industry members.

New initiative include:

  • Visitor Experience Development Plans in the regions – Working with local stakeholders, tourism businesses and communities, shared long-term tourism plans will be developed to drive visitor numbers to lesser known areas and attractions such as the Inishowen Penisula on the Wild Atlantic Way or attractions that bring to life specific themes, such as the ‘Castles & Conquests’ theme in Ireland’s Ancient East.
  • New festivals and events to drive growth in the off peak season – With festivals motivating over 200,000 overseas visitors to come to Ireland, and contributing €108m to the economy, a series of new festivals will be developed to drive growth in the off-peak seasons, including a major new Halloween festival to take place in Ireland’s Ancient East.
  • A new ‘Month of Food’ programme will also be developed, which will offer immersive food tourism experiences, showcasing the quality of Irish produce and driving increased visitor numbers and revenue, particularly in the off season.
  • Tourism Careers – A New Hospitality and Tourism Careers Oversight Group will be established to address labour supply and skills developments issues. Chaired by Fáilte Ireland, members will include industry representative bodies, education providers and state agencies. The group will design and implement a tourism career promotion campaign.
  • Increased marketing and sales – New investment by Fáilte Ireland in domestic and Northern Ireland marketing and business tourism overseas.
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