According to marketing body Tourism Ireland, 2018 was the best ever year for overseas tourism to Ireland, with a record 11.2 million visitors spending a total of €6.1 billion. This represents a growth of more than 500,000 visitors compared with 2017.
Factors thought to have contributed to the growth in tourism to Ireland are increased access and a general economic upswing, as well as exposure from events like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal visit and marketing surrounding Game of Thrones and Star Wars filming locations. In addition, Tourism Ireland ran a number of promotional activities, including campaigns for regional Ireland, Dublin and Belfast, as well as the organisation's annual Global Greening initiative on St Patrick’s Day.
“2018 looks set to be another record year for overseas tourism to Ireland. The latest CSO figures indicate that the number of overseas visitors to our shores continues to grow, as does the revenue generated by them. The tourism sector supports approximately 260,000 jobs in communities all across the country, therefore the importance of the sector cannot be overstated,” said Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin. “Revenue generated by tourism reaches all parts of the country, bringing much needed jobs and income to areas with otherwise limited economic activity. Our focus going forward is to ensure that we continue to grow in a sustainable way and to further build on the success that the regions have experienced through initiatives such as the ‘Wonders of the Wild Atlantic Way’ and ‘The Call of the Wild’. The Tourism Action Plan 2019 to 2021, which is due to be published by my department shortly, will outline some key actions which will underpin the continued growth of the sector in coming years, as will the additional funding secured for the sector in Budget 2019. The continued growth in tourism over the last number of years is testament to the great work being done all across the sector and I want to congratulate Tourism Ireland on another very successful year.”