The Irish countryside in County Wicklow. Photo by Mitsu Fonseca

Dublin, Ireland: The Central Statistics Office (CSO) in Ireland released yesterday, the data for overseas travel to and from Ireland for the second quarter of 2017. Let’s break down what the numbers indicate.

The number of overseas travellers to the island during the months from April to June has seen a gradual uptick as compared to that from the first quarter of 2017.

Overseas trips to Ireland increased by 6.6% for the period April to June 2017

The released data also provides a breakdown of the country of residence of overseas passengers entering Ireland and Irish residents travelling abroad. It gives details about their length of stay in the country, the reason for their journey as well as their expenditure during the stay.

According to the CSO, data is collected via two sample surveys – Country of Residence Survey (CRS) and the Passenger Card Inquiry (PCI) – of passengers at airports and seaports. The data thus released for overseas inbound and outbound travel is in conjunction with that supplied by air and sea transport companies to provide estimated overall figures for the quarter.

The interactive map above uses data from the CSO report to show where travellers to Ireland came from, their average length of stay in the country and the amount (excluding fares) spent by them while on the trip here from April to June 2017.

According to the data released by the CSO, the estimated total number of overseas travellers to Ireland in the second quarter of 2017 was 2,769,000 as against 2,599,000 in the same quarter of 2016. That’s a 6.1 per cent increase year on year.

As seen in the bar chart above, Great Britain accounted for an estimated 949,000 travellers to the Republic of Ireland in the second quarter of 2017, down from 1,014,000 from the same quarter last year. Great Britain is Ireland’s largest source market for travellers and a 6.4 per cent decrease year on year, can be attributed to Brexit.

Speaking at the launch of The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation’s (ITIC) 2018 Pre Budget Submission in Dublin on September 5th, Maurice Pratt Chairman of ITIC said,

“Irish tourism has enjoyed strong growth in recent years but 2017 is proving more challenging and our biggest and nearest tourism market, that of Britain, is in decline. Brexit is having a real and material impact on Irish tourism and we estimate that it will cost Irish tourism at least €100 million this year.”

The above bar charts also show that North America accounts for the highest number of travellers to Ireland after Great Britain in the second quarters of 2016 as well as 2017. This can be attributed to better connectivity across the Atlantic ocean.

Duration of Stay

Though most passengers arriving at airports and seaports in Ireland are from Great Britain, the ones who actually stay on the island the longest are those from Australia and New Zealand as well as 18 other countries from outside Europe. The data from the CSO doesn’t name these other countries.

Travellers from Great Britain stayed for an average of only 4.3 days – the lowest amongst all overseas travellers to Ireland in the quarter, owing to the proximity of both nations and several convenient air and sea travel options, while those from North America were around for at least a week.

Big Spenders

2017 Q2

2016 Q2

Amongst all passengers arriving and staying on the Emerald Isle, the data from the CSO indicates that North Americans were the highest spenders when they visited Ireland during the spring quarter of both years followed by the British. The estimated expenditure by North Americans in the second quarter of 2017 rose about 17 per cent as compared to the corresponding quarter in 2016. Overseas travellers for The United States of America and Canada spent an estimated €476 million between April to June 2017 in Ireland, while those from Great Britain spent an estimated €267 million.

Some Guinness while on business?

Those choosing Ireland as their holiday destination continued to rise in the second quarter of 2017. The data shows that 1,419,000 visitors to Ireland during the quarter from April to June 2017 were here on holiday/leisure. The several music concerts and sports events in the country were held during the quarter, that coupled with mild weather certainly did make Ireland enticing to one and all.

The increasing number of startups and conferences continue to draw investors and visitors to the country. Though the number has taken a slight dip as compared to that from the second quarter of 2016, the estimated number of business travellers to Ireland was 413,000 between April and June 2017.


The data from the CSO shows a rise in earnings from overseas travel to Ireland during the quarter from April to June 2017. Estimated earnings rose from €1,655 million in the second quarter of 2016, to €1,876 million in the corresponding quarter for this year.

Eoghan O’Mara Walsh CEO of ITIC said at the event earlier this week,

“Tourism is Ireland’s largest indigenous sector in terms of employment – employing over 225,000 people in Ireland. However, to sustain growth in the sector and secure regional employment, the government needs to look seriously at investment and to retain and improve Ireland’s competitiveness.”

Boosting tourism

The continuous efforts of both Tourism Ireland and Failte Ireland to promote the island as a premier business and leisure destination to the world cannot be ignored.

The National Tourism Development Authority – Failte Ireland – acknowledges that Brexit is a cause for concern over the data released by the CSO for the first half of 2017. CEO Paul Kelly said in a statement,

“While we welcome the growth in US visitors we need to be conscious that, historically, US visitor numbers have been more volatile and can go down more quickly, therefore we need to keep driving growth in the UK and Europe as well as other markets.”

He also said that it is important that they keep a tight focus on competitiveness while planning for next year. With that, Failte Ireland has just released their events programme for 2018. Take a look!

Header image courtesy: Mitsu Fonseca