50+ Interesting Ireland Travel & Tourism Statistics (2021)

Written By:
Bradley Williams
/
Last Updated:
August 22, 2021
Here's a look at the most up-to-date Ireland travel statistics currently available. Learn who visits Ireland, why, how much they spend, and much more!
Ireland Travel and Tourism Statistics
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The island of Ireland is becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. With magical sceneries and fascinating architecture, it truly is a treasure trove of otherworldly charms.

Made up of the Republic of Ireland, as well as Northern Ireland which is part of the UK. This island is the birthplace of many illustrious writers including Oscar Wilde. It is also known for the lavish landscape and stunning medieval castles.

So, it should not be a surprise that millions of people visit Ireland each year. In fact, the island welcomed a record-breaking number of 11.3 overseas tourists in 2019.

The tourism sector is becoming a more and more integral part of the Irish economy and lifestyle. 5.6% of all employed people in Ireland actually work in the travel industry.

We have compiled some of the most interesting statistics about travel and tourism in Ireland, from the number of tourists it receives each year to how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted Irish tourism.

Let’s dive right in!

Sources: After each stat, I have referenced where the data was gathered and curated from. For a full list of all articles and sources used in this roundup, please head to the bottom of the post. At the time of publication, these are the most up-to-date statistics available. Little data was gathered in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandefacemic.

TAP TO INTERACT

Ireland Tourism Key Findings

  • Ireland received 11.3 million overseas visitors in 2019, the highest number to date
  • This is an increase of 100,000 tourists compared to 2018
  • Total tourism on the island of Ireland generated £7.8 billion of revenue in 2019
  • International tourism contributed around £5.1 billion of that amount, while residents from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Island spent £2.7 billion
  • Nearly 70% of all international tourists in Ireland are from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany or France
  • 50% of visitors to Ireland come for holidaying purposes, while 1 in 3 people come to visit friends or relatives. 14% come for business visits
  • The average overseas tourist spends £451 per trip and stays for 7.3 nights
  • The most popular tourist destination in Ireland is Dublin, followed by the South West and Northern Ireland
  • The tourism sector in Ireland contributed more than 127,100 jobs in 2018, and this number is expected to rise dramatically by 2028
  • For every €1 million spent on overseas marketing, Ireland enjoys €41 million in economic return

Overseas Tourism in Ireland Statistics

How Popular is Ireland Among International Tourists?

1. Ireland received 11.3 million overseas visitors in 2019, the highest number to date.

[TourismIreland]

2019 had been a huge year for the Republic of Ireland’s tourism as the country received a record-high total of 11.3 million international tourists, which is 100,000 more than 2018.

2. In 2019, international tourism in Ireland generated around £5.1 billion in revenue.

[TourismIreland]

The island of Ireland generated €5.9 or £5.1 billion from tourist expenditure in 2019.

3. 50% of visitors to Ireland come for holidaying purposes.

[TourismIreland]

Half of all overseas visitors to Ireland are holiday makers, 32% are visiting friends or relatives, 14% come on business visits, while 4% visit for other purposes.

why do people visit Ireland stats

4. The average overseas tourist spends £451 per trip and stays for 7.3 nights.

[TourismIreland]

The average spend by an overseas tourist in 2019 was £451, while the average length of stay was 7.3 nights.

5. Nearly 70% of all international tourists in Ireland are from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany or France.

[TourismIreland]

Ireland receives the most tourists from Great Britain (42%), followed by the US (15%), Germany (7%), and France (5%).

6. 29% of all international tourists stay with friends or relatives when visiting Ireland.

[TourismIreland]

who do people stay with in Ireland

7. North American tourists travel more extensively than tourists from other places.

[TourismIreland]

They usually include an average of 2.5 regions in their trip compared to the 1.9 region of overseas tourists as a whole.

8. More than half of all overseas vacationers to Ireland are at least 35 years old.

[TourismIreland]

Tourists from Mainland Europe tend to be younger (47% are below 35 years old) whereas tourists from Other Areas are typically older, with 62% being above 35 years old.

9. 67% of all holiday makers in 2019 were coming to the Island of Ireland for the first time ever.

This was a huge increase from only 59% in 2009.

10. The most popular tourist destination in Ireland is Dublin (59% of all overseas visitors), followed by the South West (21%) and Northern Ireland (20%).

[TourismIreland]

They usually include an average of 2.5 regions in their trip compared to the 1.9 region of overseas tourists as a whole.

11. Border, which includes Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, and Sligo, was the least popular region for overseas visitors. It welcomed 768,000 visitors in 2019.

[TourismIreland]

They usually include an average of 2.5 regions in their trip compared to the 1.9 region of overseas tourists as a whole.

Irish Tourism for Great Britain Visitors

How Many British Tourists Visit Ireland?

12. Great Britain remains Ireland’s top market source for travel and tourism.

[TourismIreland]

Britain is the most important market for Ireland in terms of tourists and nights.

13. 42% of all overseas trips to Ireland come from Great Britain.

[TourismIreland]

14. In 2019, 4.8 million tourists from Great Britain visited Ireland.

[TourismIreland]

Great Britain is the world's 4th largest outbound market making around 93 million trips annually, 5% of which is to the island of Ireland.

15. Among those, 83% are from England, 14% from Scotland, and 4% from Wales.

[TourismIreland]

Division of Great British visitors to Ireland

16. Most British tourists stay between 1 to 3 nights in Ireland, while only 10% stay for more than 9 nights.

[TourismIreland]

For most tourists from Great Britain (58%), the ideal length of trip to Ireland is between 1 and 3 nights. Only 10% of British tourists stay for 9 nights or longer.

17. Tourists from Great Britain generate up to £1.3 billion, which is one-fourth of Ireland’s total tourist revenue.

[TourismIreland]

In 2019, Ireland made €1.4 or £1.3 billion in revenue from British tourists alone, which accounts to 25% of the island’s tourism revenue.

18. Ireland is the 6th most popular outbound destination among tourists from Great Britain.

[TourismIreland]

19. Food & Drink represents the largest portion of holiday spending in Ireland by UK visitors.

[TourismIreland]

38% of all holiday expenditure by British tourists goes towards food & drink. Followed by accommodation, shopping, then transport.

Breakdown of UK tourist expenditure in Ireland

American Tourists in Ireland

How Do American Visitors Contribute to Ireland’s Tourism Sector?

20. The USA contributes the most out of all overseas markets in Ireland in terms of revenue, and 2nd in terms of tourists.

[TourismIreland]

The United States of America is the largest source of overseas revenue for Ireland and the 2nd most important source of tourists after Great Britain.

21. In 2019, there were 1.7 million tourists coming to Ireland from the United States of America. This number has grown by 61% since 2014.

[TourismIreland]

The United States has the largest outbound market in the world. In 2019, 43% of outbound trips from the US were to Europe and 9% of these included a visit to Ireland.

22. American tourists spent £1.4 billion in Ireland in 2019.

[TourismIreland]

This amount has grown by 71% since 2014.

23. The average expenditure of an American tourist in Ireland is £797 per visit. 36% of this is typically spent on food & drink.

[TourismIreland]

For an average trip to the island of Ireland by an American holidaymaker, they would spend £797. With food & drink being the largest portion of expenditure, followed by accommodation, shopping and transport.

Breakdown of American tourist expenditure in Ireland

24. The average length of stay for American tourists in Ireland is 8 nights.

[TourismIreland]

29% of American tourists stay for 6-8 nights in Ireland.

25. During summer of 2019, Ireland airports welcomed 217 departures per week from the US.

[TourismIreland]

This is almost 55,000 direct air seats per week leaving from the US to Ireland.

26. US vacationers make up 22% of all vacationers arriving in Ireland in 2019.

[TourismIreland]

27. The island of Ireland is the 8th most popular destination on the US holiday maker’s travel bucket list.

[TourismIreland]

Domestic Tourism in Ireland

How popular is Ireland among domestic tourists?

28. In 2019, there were 11.6 million domestic trips in Ireland, which is a dramatic 27% increase from 2015.

[Failte Ireland]

11.6 million trips to Ireland were made in 2019 by domestic tourists, which is a huge increase from 2015.

29. 1 in 2 of these domestic trips was a holiday trip.

[Failte Ireland]

Half of the total domestic trips made to Ireland in 2019 were for holidaying purposes.

30. 36% of overnight holiday makers in Ireland stayed in hotels, while 16% stayed in holiday homes.

[Failte Ireland]

The most popular accommodation choice among domestic tourists in Ireland is hotels. Meanwhile, 16% of them stay in holiday homes.

31. The most popular time to visit Ireland for domestic holiday makers is between July and September.

[Failte Ireland]

Motivation for Visiting Ireland

Why do tourists come to Ireland?

32. 50% of visitors to Ireland come for holidaying purposes, while 1 in 3 people come to visit friends or relatives. 14% come for business visits.

[TourismIreland] 

33. One of the most popular activities to do in Ireland is hiking or cross country walking, which engaged around 2,392,000 overseas visitors in 2019.

[Failte Ireland]

Nature-oriented activities remain the most popular among both domestic and overseas visitors to Ireland alike, with hiking or cross country walking being a favourite for overseas tourists.

34. 361,000 overseas tourists in 2019 were involved in cycling activities while in Ireland.

[Failte Ireland]

35. The internet is the biggest source of information for tourists planning a trip to Ireland

[Failte Ireland]

Most overseas visitors to Ireland use the internet to plan their trip. On the other hand, one-fourth of them also rely on guide books, while only 14% plan with the help of travel agents.

How do visitors plan their trip to Ireland

36. 39% of overseas holiday makers in Ireland in 2019 came as a couple, while 1 in every 5 visited alone.

[Failte Ireland]

Employment in the Irish Travel Industry

How many people are involved in the tourism sector in Ireland?

37. The tourism sector in Ireland contributed more than 127,100 jobs in 2018. This is about 5.6% of the total employment in Ireland.

[Statista]

In 2018, there were 127,100 people employed in the Irish tourism sector, which is around 5.6% of all employment in Ireland.

38. The Statista Research Department forecasts that this number will rise to 180,400 by 2028.

[Statista]

How many people does Ireland's tourism sector employ

39. Every €1 million in tourist expenditure can support 27 jobs in the tourism sector in Ireland.

[Failte Ireland]

Failte Ireland estimates that every €1 million spent by tourists in Ireland can support 27 jobs in the country’s travel industry.

Tourism and Ireland’s Economy

How does the tourism sector affect the economy in Ireland?

40. From 2012 to 2018, travel and tourism has overall increased its contribution to the GDP of Ireland.

[Statista]

41. In 2018, the tourism industry made €17.9 billion contribution to Ireland’s GDP, which is roughly 5.4% of the country’s total GDP.

[Statista]

How much does tourism contribute to Ireland's GDP

42. By 2028, this amount is expected to increase to €26 billion.

[Statista]

Statista forecasts that the Irish tourism sector will contribute up to €26 billion in GDP for the country’s economy.

43. In 2019, total tourism on the island of Ireland generated £7.8 billion.

[TourismIreland]

44. Overseas visitors remain the most important source of tourists for the island of Ireland, contributing to around £5.1 billion.

[TourismIreland]

Visitors from the US are the most important source in terms of tourist revenue for the island of Ireland.

45. Meanwhile, residents of the Republic of Ireland spent £2 billion in expenditure and those from Northern Ireland contributed £666 million.

[TourismIreland]

Domestic tourists from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland also contribute a significant amount of tourism revenue.

46. Every euro spent on tourism in Ireland generates 23c in tax.

[Failte Ireland]

Tourist Attractions in Ireland

What are the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland?

47. 4 out of the top 10 free (and 4 out of the top 10 paid) attractions in Ireland are found in Dublin.

[Failte Ireland]

Dublin is home to 4 of the 10 most popular free and paid attractions in Ireland. This includes the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Zoo, Book of Kells, and St Patrick’s Cathedral for the paid attraction.

There are also the National Gallery of Ireland, National Botanic Gardens, National Museum of Ireland Archaeology, and Irish Museum of Modern Art for the free attractions.

48. Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is the top paid tourist attraction in Ireland, which received 1.7 million visits in 2019 alone.

[Failte Ireland]

Biggest paid tourism attractions in Ireland

49. Free attractions are actually less popular in Ireland, with the most visited free attraction, Castletown House Parklands in Kildare, receiving 966 thousand visits in 2019.

[Failte Ireland]

Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic in Ireland

How did the recent Coronavirus pandemic impact tourism in Ireland?

50. In March 2020, overseas arrivals (air and sea) in Ireland decreased by 56.7% from the previous year.

[Central Statistics Office]

In March 2020 when Covid-19 began to directly impact Ireland and the UK, international arrivals in Ireland fell by 56.7% from March 2019.

51. When the pandemic caused a sudden collapse in international travel in April 2020, the number decreased by 99.1%.

[Central Statistics Office]

There were only 16,100 arrivals in Ireland in April 2020, compared to 1.7 million in April 2019. This is a substantial decrease of 99.1%.

52. One year later in April 2021, there was a 331.2% increase in overseas arrivals in Ireland.

[Central Statistics Office]

The most recent statistics of overseas travel in Ireland shows that air and sea travel are slowly recovering from the year-long travel ban and restrictions. It still hasn’t regained its levels before the pandemic, but is an improvement from 2020.

Effect of Covid on tourism in Ireland

53. June 2021 sees 57,100 overseas arrivals, which is a 180% increase from previous year.

[Central Statistics Office]

While this number is steadily increasing, it is still far below the pre-pandemic arrival level of 1.9 million in June 2019.

54. A recent study shows that 42% of global holiday makers expect their next European holiday to be in 2022.

[TourismIreland]

55. When choosing a travel destination in Europe for future plans, the most desirable elements for most holiday makers include beautiful scenery and history and culture.

[TourismIreland]

Holiday makers around the world admit that when choosing a European travel destination for their post-Covid plan, the most important elements are beautiful scenery and rich history and culture. The island of Ireland abounds with both of these.

Final Thoughts

The tourism sector in Ireland contributes to 5.4% of the island’s total GDP and this amount is only expected to rise from now on.

Since reaching a record high of 11.3 million overseas tourists in 2019, there is reason to believe that interest in visiting Ireland for holidaying purposes will only grow, especially once the pandemic has fully passed.

In spite of setbacks from Covid-19 and the dramatic fall in number of arrivals this past year, the natural and cultural appeal of Ireland will continue to impress!

We’ve tried to be as comprehensive as we can with this post. Hopefully, it can help you understand more about tourism in Ireland.

Did we miss any crucial statistics about travel and tourism in Ireland? Drop us a comment below!

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