- The CSO figures for September released today show that overseas visitors dropped by 11% on September of last year.
- Visitors from Continental Europe were down by just under 4%, while North American visitors dropped by 9%. The biggest disappointment was the UK where visitor numbers for the month dropped by 17%.
- Although forming a much smaller portion of the overall numbers, visitors from other areas were slightly up on last year.
- The September outcome from the UK (-17%) is extremely worrying in that UK visitors to Europe were down much less in the same month –8%. This follows a similar pattern in July, Ireland –17%, UK to Europe –3%.
- Overall visitor numbers for the nine months to the end of September are only marginally behind the same period last year, which contrasts with a growth of 4% in 2007 over 2006.
The number of visits from Continental Europe is marginally ahead of last year for the first nine months, UK visitors are down almost 3%, and North American visitors are down by almost 5%. (This is a better result than the UK whose North American visitors are down 9% January to September. In fact in the 3rd quarter, July/August/September, North American visitors to the UK were down 21%, and in September an even more dramatic drop of 27% was experienced.)
- But back to Ireland, when looking at the three month high season period of July, August and September, the UK was down almost 10% on the same period last year, the US down 11% and Continental Europe down just under 4%.
- France was actually up 4% for the 3 peak months, Germany was in line with last year, while Italy and Spain dropped 18% and 9% respectively. Poland also dropped 18%.
- Overseas trips by Irish residents for September were very slightly down on September of last year, which was in sharp contrast to the increase of 14.5% in September 2007 compared to the same month in 2006. Year to date Irish visits abroad are running 4.4% ahead of last year, though it is evident that this market also is contracting.
- Taken together, these figures confirm something which we always knew, that travel and tourism is not immune to the financial and economic difficulties which prevail in all our main markets.