This morning the Central Statistics Office will release overseas travel data for the three months to January. In the period October-December 2013, the total number of trips to Ireland increased by 9.9% to 1,580,100 – an overall rise of 142,100 compared to the same period twelve months earlier. <p>

Trips by residents of Great Britain increased by 12.5% to 727,100 and trips by residents of North America to Ireland increased by 11.0% to 223,500. Trips by residents of European Countries other than Great Britain (Other Europe) rose by 4.4% to 527,600 while trips to Ireland from Other Areas increased by 20.0% to 102,000. <p>

Meanwhile, the total number of overseas trips made by Irish residents during the period October-December 2013 decreased by 2.3% to 1,329,300. The total number of trips (Irish residents’ trips overseas plus trips to Ireland) in the period October to December rose by 4.0% to 2,909,400 on an annual basis. <p>

Tourism is Ireland’s largest home-grown industry, contributing over 4% of annual economic output and employing more than 200,000 people, so it is very important that the sector performs well. The decision by the Government in the 2014 Budget to maintain a low VAT rate of 9% for the sector, for the time being at least, should help the tourist industry improve further over the next twelve months. <p>

<b>An annual increase of 7.5% in the total number of trips to Ireland is forecast for the November-January period.
<p><h5>Alan McQuaid</h5>


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