Over eight million overseas visitors came to Ireland during the first nine months of 2018, new figures show.
Information released by the Central Statistics Office portrays a visitor increase of seven percent on the same period for last year.
A total of 8,203,500 people came from outside the state to visit Ireland from January to September of this year, 542,300 more than 2017.
British visitors represent a third of all overseas visitors for the year so far, with 2,842,000 Britons venturing across the Irish Sea.
2,976,200 Europeans have visited so far in 2018, more than 270,000 above the total from the same period in 2017.
With 2017 being Ireland’s best ever year for tourism, according to Tourism Ireland, and with visitor figures on the rise, there is every possibility that 2018 will be even better for tourism figures on the island.
Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly welcomed this, saying: “2018 has been an exceptional year for tourism. Our latest estimates now show that we will have welcomed over 9.6 million overseas tourists and 9.8 million domestic trips this year, generating €7.8 billion in revenue. There is now an impressive 260,000 people estimated to be employed in the sector, an increase of 20,000 since 2017.
“The tourism industry is vitally important for Ireland, particularly when you consider that this growth in revenue and jobs is generated in many parts of the country where many other major industries do not exist.”
In September of this year, the collective number of trips to Ireland by overseas residents increased by 2.3% to 968,200 – an overall increase of 21,600 compared to twelve months earlier.
British nationals visited 9.1% less than they did the previous year with figures dropping from 327,300 to 297,600, however, trips by residents of European countries other than Great Britain rose by 6.9% from 321,400 in 2017 to 343,500 in 2018.
Residents of Canada and the USA willing to make the long trip across the pond to Ireland rose 11 percent from 235,500 to 261,400.
Recently, Fáilte Ireland published its annual list of Ireland’s most popular visitor attractions for 2017. This list looks at both free and paid for spots, with the Guinness Storehouse topping the former and the National Gallery of Ireland topping the latter.
TV and film exposure has been named as a contributing factor to the high levels of incoming visitors over the past number of years, with Game of Thrones and Star Wars having major scenes shot on the island. Skellig Michael, an ancient monastic settlement off the west coast of Ireland features heavily in Star Wars: The Last Jedi released in 2017. As well as this, spots such as Castle Ward in County Down and The Dark Hedges in Co Antrim feature in Game of Thrones, which averaged 30.6 million viewers per episode in its seventh season.