4 January 2017
By Bryan Smyth
Fine Gael Cork Senator, Jerry Buttimer, has said that 2016 was a record year for Irish tourism, benefitting communities and businesses in Cork. He also encouraged people to consider a staycation in 2017, as thoughts turn to summer holiday bookings.
“2016 was a record year for Irish tourism, an industry that is absolutely crucial to communities and businesses here in Cork. The latest official data on overseas travel from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), showed an increase of 277,000 overseas visits to Ireland for the first eleven months of 2016 compared to the same period of 2015. This represents an increase of 11%.
“The largest increase was in visits from North America, up 18.3%. Visits from Mainland Europe grew by 8.8%; and visits from Great Britain were up by 11.1%. We must continue to prioritise our marketing of Irish tourism in Britain this coming year, particularly in the context of Brexit.
“Communities across Cork are so dependent on tourism and we know how it can benefit local businesses here. The CSO figures released in December show that spending in Ireland by overseas visitors (excluding fares) for the first nine months of the year rose by 9.4% compared with the corresponding period of 2015.
“Here in Cork it’s been a great year for tourism, and in particular for Cork Airport, with the news that the US Department for Transportation has given the go ahead for Norwegian Air flights from Cork to the US. Cork Airport is the country’s second largest and best connected international airport with more choice of routes than any other airport outside of Dublin. More than 2.2 million passengers travel through the airport each year. Cork Airport is a real success story and I would like to congratulate everyone at the airport.”
“In Cork we have big plans when it comes to tourism. Our five year tourism strategy aims to increase visitor numbers to 2.8 million, with an increase in spend in the local economy of €865 million. This dedicated and ambitious five year plan (2015-2020), called ‘Growing Tourism in Cork’, will be delivered through Visit Cork, a new leisure tourism organisation. This blueprint for a coherent tourism marketing strategy for Cork must now be used over the next decade to market Cork as a single region. Our city and county has a lot to offer and we must sell this message.
“My Fine Gael colleague, Minister for Tourism Patrick O’Donovan, has noted that in addition to the strong performance in overseas tourism, our home holiday market is also growing. Domestic holiday trips and related expenditure were each up by over 3% in the first nine months of 2016 compared to the same period last year.
“The New Year period is a busy time of year for the holiday market, as people turn their thoughts to booking a summer trip. I strongly encourage people to consider a staycation in 2017. Cork is well placed to cater for domestic visitors, as well as those from overseas, and we have a lot to offer.”