Arts, Sport and Tourism Minister Martin Cullen is encouraged by the latest tourism figures produced by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), especially in the light of the ‘challenging international environment’.
The figures, published on Thursday last, show that over 2.9 million overseas visitors came to Ireland between January and May, a four per cent increase on the same period last year.
“While there are particularly challenging economic conditions affecting some of our largest overseas markets this year, these figures from the CSO show that the number of overseas visitors to Ireland increased by over per cent in the first five months of 2008,” said the Minister.
“It is particularly encouraging to note that the Great Britain and US markets have held up.”
Added Minister Cullen: “We must continue to recognise the importance of tourism to our economy. The importance of tourism to our economy must never be forgotten.
“Last year alone it was estimated that overseas tourists spent contributed almost €5 billion visiting Ireland. Additionally it should be acknowledged that to our economy, the tourism and hospitality sector supports 250,000 jobs”
The Minister said that the importance of domestic tourism cannot be understated.
“Figures published by the CSO earlier this week show that Irish residents took 890,000 holiday trips in Ireland in the first three months of this year – an increase of almost 16 per cent on the same period in 2007, with related expenditure of €181 million,” he said.
“It is good to see that Irish people are taking increasing advantage of the value being offered by the tourism sector and the many attractions close to home.”