April 2014

2014 is shaping up as another year of growth in tourism, with prospects from the main overseas markets looking good, coupled with a more confident consumer mood likely to boost domestic demand.

All the current indicators are encouraging – economic growth across most source markets, a more competitive product offering, an increase in capacity on air and ferry services, reports of upswings in demand from OTAs and tour operators, and a more strategic approach to investment in marketing on the part of businesses and state agencies. The mood of the industry is upbeat, helped in no small part by support from the Government and its commitment to put sustainable tourism growth high on its agenda. Of course, as always, international tourism and travel can be at risk to extraneous international events well beyond the control of the industry.

Growth in tourism is good for the economy. However, the real and potential benefits of tourism to the economy – jobs, demand for indigenous inputs, foreign exchange earnings and tax receipts – are currently based on traditional tourism statistics which focus primarily on ‘flows’ (number of visitors, number of overnight stays, gross expenditure, etc.), and do not quantify the overall contribution that tourism makes to the economy. Most mature destinations have adopted a harmonised system of Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSAs), which uses the same concepts, definitions and classifications as national accounts and is the internationally recognised framework for measuring tourist activity and the importance of tourism to national or regional economies. It is time Ireland adopted TSA to provide a more accurate measurement of the true economic value of tourism to the overall economy and to various regions within the country. Such information would then better inform policy and the allocation of investment resources.

As always, your comments are most welcome on itic@eircom.net.





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366,000 seats per week in each direction over the peak months will be available on direct scheduled air services into airports in the Republic for summer season 2014, a 6% increase on last summer.

European routes up 10%, to over 188,000 seats per week.

Cross-channel routes down 1%, to approximately 132,000 per week.

Transatlantic routes up 15% in the peak, to almost 40,000 seats per week.

Middle East routes up 18%, to almost 7,000 seats per week.

Following the spate of announcements of new routes and services over recent months, particularly following on the news of the suspension of the Air Travel Tax, it is interesting to note the increased capacity on offer and, perhaps surprising, to see a marginal decrease in capacity on cross-channel routes. The good news is that the summer sees several new routes with good inbound tourism potential, including San Francisco, Toronto, St. John’s Newfoundland, Hanover, and Basel into Dublin, from Paris, Berlin and Nice into Shannon, and from Dusseldorf and Eindhoven into Knock. In addition notable increases in capacity are on offer from Canada, Germany, and France while more options for connections via the Middle East are available to tourists from other long haul markets.Overall capacity on routes to/from London airports is up 2% on last summer, while the number of seats on routes from UK Provincial airports is down 5%, approx. 3,000 fewer seats per week compared to last summer. This is perhaps disappointing in the light of signs of recovery from the market. While the number of flights is unchanged, the capacity is down due to the increased incidence of Aer Lingus Regional flights on several routes while Ryanair will operate 21 fewer flights per week.


Frequency and capacity on ferry services is ahead of last year, providing 5% more car space.



IRISH FERRIES with a new ship is providing more services from Holyhead to Dublin and a new weekly service from Cherbourg to Dublin, in addition to the line’s services from France to Rosslare.


LD LINE has launched a new weekly service from Gijon in northern Spain via St Nazaire to Rosslare.

has taken over the Cherbourg – Rosslare service previously operated by Celtic Link and will provide 3 sailings per week with the same ship now renamed MV Stena Horizon


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(Photo: Shaun Quinn, Minister Ring and Una Young of Select Hotels of Ireland)


Meitheal 2014, Ireland’s largest tourism trade fair, was held in Dublin this week where hundreds of the world’s top tour operators descended on the Capital for the biggest annual event in Irish tourism.

Almost 500 Irish businesses had the chance to meet almost 200 key international buyers from 17 countries with a view to gaining more business for the year ahead.

Approximately 13,000 one-to-one business opportunities were scheduled with buyers from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, GB, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the US.

As the first day of appointments came to a close the international buyers were greeted by the following video which is a beautiful piece, well worth a view.



(Photo: at Meitheal were Tom O’Mahoney, Secretary General, Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport; Alison Metcalfe, Head of North America, Tourism Ireland; Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport; Michael Binchy, President, Owenoak International Golf & Travel; Eamonn McKeon, Chief Executive, ITIC)


Tourism Ireland and VisitBritain have announced a new agreement to boost tourist numbers from long-haul markets such as China and India.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, and Sandie Dawe, CEO of VisitBritain. The announcement was made in London, at a business event, organised by the British Irish Chamber of Commerce to mark this week’s State Visit of President Michael D Higgins to Britain.

Under the agreement, Tourism Ireland and VisitBritain will work more closely together – particularly in long-haul markets outside of Europe and North America – to promote the island of Ireland and Great Britain as destinations to be visited as part of a single holiday.

The aims of the MoU are twofold: to align the work of both agencies, combining their activities in markets where appropriate; and to increase visitor numbers and revenue to both the island of Ireland and Great Britain from long-haul markets.

(Photo: Sandie Dawe, CEO of VisitBritain, and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland)


Global passenger traffic on international routes in February grew by 5.5% compared to a year ago. Although this represented a slowdown compared to the January traffic increase, demand for the first two months of 2014 was up 6.9% ahead of the same period a year ago. European carriers’ international traffic climbed 5.8% in February compared to the year-ago period, the strongest growth among the three largest regions of the world. Capacity rose 5.7% and load factor was stable at 77.4%. “People are flying. Strong demand is consistent with the pick-up in global economic growth, particularly in advanced economies.” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO. The airline industry remains on track to deliver a second consecutive year of improved profitability, with higher oil prices offset by increased demand, despite a slight downward revision to IATA’s industry outlook for 2014 to an industry profit of $18.7 billion.


Dublin Airport is forecasting another year of solid growth with a 9% increase to 22m passengers. This follows on a good year in 2013 with nearly 6% growth and breaching the 20m mark for first time since 2009. Five of the six top markets – UK, Spain, Germany, France, Italy and US – have more seats on offer to/from Dublin with cross-channel services the only route group to show a decline on last year. Aer Lingus and Ryanair combined account for 4 out of every 5 seats on offer at the airport.


‘Germany and France – A Strategy for Growth’
released last week sets out a new course for increasing demand from Ireland’s third and fourth largest source of holiday visits. The new strategic approach and a 3 year plan sets out challenging and ambitious targets. The plan unveiled by Tourism Ireland was developed with Fáilte Ireland, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, and ITIC – the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, as well as engaging with carriers and businesses engaged in the markets.

CLICK HERE or on the cover to read the report.


European travelers frequently use the Internet throughout the activities planning process, but less than a quarter of travel activity gross bookings happen online. Travellers are accustomed to purchasing most activities during the destination and face-to-face, directly from the provider. According to PhoCusWright’s latest report, When They Get There (and Why They Go): Activities, Attractions, Events and Tours in Europe, roughly one in four European travellers who bought activities offline felt it was easier and more convenient to book in person than online. One in five wanted to speak with someone for detailed information about the activity before booking.


The governments of the EU Member States currently want to significantly restrict the rights of air passengers in the event of delays and cancellations. According to the current bill of the Greek Council Presidency, compensations in case of cancellations and delays – depending on distances flown – will only be due after more than five, nine, or twelve hours.


Brand USA, a public-private entity that promotes travel to the U.S., may not survive after its funding runs out in September 2015. The US House Budget Committee, unveiled his fiscal road map for the next decade, and it does not include Brand USA. The budget recommends eliminating the agency created by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, because it is not a core responsibility of the federal government. Brand USA is funded by a fee levied on visitors coming to the U.S from countries participating in the Visa Waiver program, and by matching contributions from the private sector. In February, Brand USA released a study that said its marketing efforts had resulted in 1.1 million additional visitors to the U.S. during Brand USA’s second fiscal year.

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The global economy could experience years of stagnation and “sub-par growth”, if the Ukraine crisis is left unresolved, inflation does not pick up in Europe and Japan, and corporate leverage is not reduced in the US, according to the IMF head Christine Lagarde. She identified that whilst the world economy would grow by over 3% in 2014 and 2015 that nevertheless certain inhibiting factors, such as continued problems in Ukraine and abnormally low inflation rates within the EU, could have an adverse affect on the globe’s economic recovery.


Optimism in the Eurozone’s economy brightened more than expected in March, as European consumer confidence showed its strongest monthly jump in nearly five years, according to the latest data from the European Commission. However, economists are warning that constant levels of low inflation could lead to long term levels of economic stagnation within the European economy in the future. The Eurozone is experiencing low overall economic growth compared to the US and Britain and is falling behind on investment. The rise in the strength of the euro compared to the dollar and pound in the past two years has meant that import costs have decreased and prices have lowered, taking inflation to an overall low of below 0.7%, while inflation in the UK and the US is now reaching more sustainable levels of 1.7% and 1.1% respectively. An extended period of lower inflation within the EU could damage its economic recovery, by lowering consumer demand. ECB policymakers have kept the base rate at 0.25% for the time being , despite their Mario Draghi, describing sub 1% inflation levels as ‘a danger zone’, brushing off any suggestion that Eurozone could be heading for a period of deflation.


The British Chambers of Commerce forecast that the UK economy will be back to its pre-recession peak by the summer. Consumer confidence is expected to rebound following an unexpected dip in the last quarter of 2013, as UK base rate is kept at 0.5%, inflation comes down, incomes improve and disposable incomes gradually picks up. However, consumers will remain selective about their spending in their search for value and fulfilment. From recent research, holidays would appear to be one of the categories which the UK consumer values and is willing to sacrifice other expenditure to safeguard leisure trips away from home, with overseas trips forecast to increase while domestic holidays drop. Long haul travel received a boost in the recent Budget, with the rationalisation of the Air Passenger Duty (APD).


The US economy has reached an important milestone—it has finally regained all the private sector jobs it lost during the recession that followed the 2008 global financial crisis. The economy added 192,000 jobs in March, as the end of winter and better weather in many parts of the country encouraged employers to begin hiring workers slightly more aggressively. The unemployment rate remained flat at 6.7%, partly due to contraction in the public sector.

All indicators point to Americans feeling more confident about the economy as the US Federal Reserve continues reducing its bond-buying program, known as quantitative easing, at the pace of $US10 billion each month. However, the US Federal Reserve hints that US interest rates could start to increase in early 2015.

Travel indicators remain positive although the US dollar is trading below this time last year against a strong euro.


Most recent forecasts point to GNP growth of between 2% and 3% this year, with both the Central Bank and IBEC upping the forecast for the year. The clearest sign of an improving economy is the reduction in unemployment. IBEC revised upwards its consumer spending and other economic forecasts and predicts that 50,000 new jobs will be created this year. An increase in consumer confidence is likely to result in improved household incomes, but according to the Central Bank the increase in domestic demand is “likely to be modest given that many headwinds to recovery still remain”. These headwinds include wage pressures, high taxes, low inflation and low levels of investment all in the context of a fragile European recovery.

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