Niallgibbons

Ireland visitor numbers continue to recover

[caption id="attachment_67570" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Niall Gibbons."]

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Ireland is still pulling them in despite the times that are, well, in it. The number of overseas visitors to Ireland rose by 6.1 percent from June to August, according to latest figures from the Irish government's Central Statistics Office.

According to an Irish Times report, a total of 2.13 million trips to Ireland were recorded during the three months, a rise of 123,500 compared to the same period a year earlier.

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Visitor numbers were boosted by a 12.4 percent rise in trips to Ireland from citizens of countries outside of North America and Europe.

Even so, the number of visitors from North America increased by 7.6 percent to 381,100, while trips by British residents were up 4.8 percent to 885,800. Visitors from other European countries rose by 4.8 percent to 885,800.

Although the numbers look good compared to 2010, a tough year compounded by the Icelandic volcano eruption, the number of overseas visitors to Ireland was down by almost 400,000 compared to the same three-month period in 2008, the report added.

"For the first eight months of 2011, visits to Ireland are up 11 percent from a year earlier to just under 4.5 million. Visitors from Britain rose 8.3 percent, while visitors from other European countries and from North America were up 12.6 percent and 13 per cent respectively," it stated.

Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar described the latest figures as encouraging and said that the tourism sector was on track to record growth in overseas visitors for the first time since 2007.

Tourism Ireland's chief executive, Niall gibbons, was nevertheless cautious.

"Following this encouraging growth in overseas visitors for the January-August period, current indications are that growth for the rest of this year may soften somewhat," said Gibbons.

"The economic turmoil of recent months has brought increased uncertainty, affecting business and consumer confidence. Given the scale of the challenges, and the ongoing uncertainty facing the global economy right now, travel and tourism looks likely to face a fairly cautious passage into 2012," he said.

Such caution in underpinned by emerging statistics for September during which Dublin Airport saw a three percent decline in passenger numbers over the same month last year.

A total of 1.7 million people traveled through the airport during the month, according to the Dublin Airport Authority.

Much of this decline was due to a fall in domestic passenger numbers after cuts by one carrier. Once domestic numbers were excluded, the overall decline at the airport was less than two percent.

Much of this non-domestic drop was concentrated in the area of passenger volume to and from the UK, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.__

"However, transatlantic routes to North America saw an increase of 12 percent during September with over 165,000 people using these routes from the capital's airport, the Irish Examiner reported.