International travel has recovered quickly from the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, with overseas tourism to Ireland this year expected to reach 75% of the 2019 figures – a year which saw more than 11 million overseas visits to the island and revenue of nearly €6bn.
Despite challenges, research in ten key markets shows the desire to travel remains strong and there is optimism for the year ahead, with most potential tourists still in the planning stages.
Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons said there has been a very strong recovery in the second half of the year and it is expected to reach at least 75% of 2019 figures.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said; “Despite all the headwinds that have been well documented already, we feel that we’re looking at a strong recovery again in 2023.”
Mr Gibbons said Ireland is not unique in facing difficulties in terms of the economy, currency fluctuations, and the war in Ukraine, but these issues are affecting every country around the globe.
He said that in the British market particularly, Ireland is a country that is hassle free.
“It’s next door, it’s easy to get to,” he said.
“There’ll be 200,000 seats on sale every week next summer with Ryanair, Aer Lingus and other carriers. We will have 40,000 spaces on our car ferries on the channel ferries alone.”
Mr Gibbons said the priority is to build business in the regions and outside of the peak travel for British tourists.
He said the “bottom line” is that they had no demand for two years, and that is a situation they “can’t tolerate”.
“For us it’s about trying to regrow demand in real terms by 2025 to 2019 levels. There are a lot of issues that need to be resolved. Competitiveness is very, very important,” he said.
“We’ve entered these storms before. For now, we need to go out and regain and build our market share.
“Competitiveness will be very key to that and there are issues that are probably beyond Tourism Ireland’s pay grade on the supply side, but certainly on the demand side we’re seeing a good degree of optimism and certainly a good base to build on from 2022 as we look to the future.”
In a statement this morning, Tourism Ireland said it is mounting its biggest ever presence at the World Travel Market in London this week in preparation for 2023.
It said the tourism industry is now facing other challenges – including labour shortfalls and the rising cost of doing business.
“Nonetheless, the latest round of Tourism Ireland research gives cause for optimism for overseas tourism next year,” the organisation said.
“The research, carried out in ten important tourism markets, shows that the desire to travel is stronger than ever. It also shows that seven out of ten people who want to travel in 2023 are still in the planning stages, meaning there is still a good opportunity to influence their choice of destination.”
Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin said the last few years have been “extremely challenging” for the industry and she commended Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland for their efforts.