Here is the data for Overseas Tourism and Travel for Ireland for Q4 2013 and full year 2013. Please note: due to changes in data reporting, we only have 2012 and 2013 figures as comparatives. Note: key takeaways are summarised at the bottom of the post.
Let's start with spending by visitors:
- In 2013, overseas travellers to Ireland spent EUR3,262 million on their stay and fares, which is 11.9% higher than in 2012. In Q4 2013, the rise y/y was 6.9%.
- Air fares paid into Irish carriers rose only marginally in 2013 compared to 2012 - up by just 0.9% to EUR864 million.
- This means that bulk of increase came from non-transport spend. Total overseas tourism and travel earnings rose 9.4% y/y in 2013 to EUR4,126 million. It is worth noting that Q4 2013 y/y rise was 3.7%.
- Key takeaway: these are positive numbers, indicative of a recovery in the sector and supportive of the data on employment growth in the sector.
Chart to illustrate:
The above figures are gross and exclude trends for Irish travellers abroad. Including these:
- Tourism and Travel Balance - trade balance computed by netting out overseas tourism and travel expenditure by irish residents abroad - registered a deficit of EUR337 million in 2013, which is a significant improvement on deficit of EUR640 million in 2012.
In terms of visitors numbers, things are a bit more complex:
- Total number of overseas visitors to Ireland rose to 6,986,000 in 2013, up 7.2% y/y. Q4 2013 also registered a rise of 9.9%.
- However, increases in visits to friends/relatives - those including visits by return emigrants - rose 10.8% y/y to 2,014,000. In other words, 42% of the total rise in number of visitors was accounted for by potential visits by Irish emigrants.
- Business visitors numbers posted a weak increase, despite big inflows of EU officials traveling to Dublin during the Presidency, rose only 5.1% from a low base. This increase accounted for only 12.8% of the total increase in overseas visitors. In fact in the last six months of 2013 (after the end of our presidency) the number of business visitors to the country fell 9.3% compared to the same period of 2012. The evidence clearly does not support claims of improved business activity.
- Visitors numbers for the purpose of holiday/leisure/recreation activities rose 8.0% y/y in 2013 to 3,059,000. This is good, but it is less robust than the aggregate numbers.
- Thus, total visitors numbers excluding visits to family and friends reached 4,972,000 in 2013 which is up 5.8% y/y/.
- Key takeaway: Good news is that visitors numbers are growing. Less positive news is that growth in the numbers of visitors for leisure and business purposes is growing much slower than the headline 9.9% figure cited by everyone is concerned.
Next - onto average duration of stay:
- In 2013, average duration of stay by visitors for all reasons for journey averaged 7.125 days, which is down on 7.275 days for 2012. In Q4 2013, average duration stood at 6.8 days against 7.2 days in Q4 2012. Thus the decline in average length of stay is not due to shorter-term visits associated with official travel during the Presidency. In fact, business trips duration averaged 5.35 days in 2013 - up on 4.925 days in 2012.
- Holiday and recreation trips duration average remained static in 2013 at 2012 level of 6.25 days. So the entire decrease was down to visits to friends and relatives shrinking from 7.325 days on average to 7.2 days.
- Key takeaway: people are traveling more, and staying roughly the same amount of time.
Last, average spend per visitor:
- Overall average spend per visitor to Ireland stood at EUR581.07 in 2013, up 1.58% on 2012 levels - which is a weak increase. In Q4 2013 average spend actually fell 5.6% y/y.
- Excluding air fares, average spend rose 3.8% y/y to EUR420.89 in 2013 compared to 2012.
- Of all countries tracked, decrease in visitors was recorded only for Italy.
- Largest increase (full year figures) was recorded for visitors from Great Britain (accounting for 33% of the total rise and 42% of all visitors to Ireland)a and the US (accounting for 30.1% of total rise in visitors numbers and 16.6% of all visitors to Ireland.
- Smallest increase (as opposed to drop) was recorded for visitors from Other countries (excluding GB, US, Australia & New Zealand, and Rest of Europe.
- In terms of average spend, chart below summarises for Q4 2013 compared to Q4 2012.
Key takeaways from above:
- Overall: positive numbers, indicative of a recovery in the sector and supportive of the data on employment growth in the sector
- Trade balance on tourism sector is still in deficit, but improving
- Less positive news is that growth in the numbers of visitors for leisure and business purposes is much slower than the headline 9.9% figure cited in the media
- There are more people traveling to Ireland, and they staying roughly the same amount of time
- Overall average spend per visitor to Ireland stood at EUR581.07 in 2013, up 1.58% on 2012 levels - which is a weak increase. In Q4 2013 average spend actually fell 5.6% y/y
- In Q4 2013, spend fell for all groups of travellers excluding those from Germany and from 'Other countries'
- Visitors from 'Other countries' have now overtaken visitors from the US in terms of per-person spend on their trips to Ireland.