Visitor growth to Ireland slows

Ireland is experiencing a slowdown in growth for international arrivals, according to data and analytics company GlobalData, that reports the Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGR) for inbound arrivals are nearly half the rate for the previous years, from 8.1 percent in 2014 to 2018 to 3.8 percent for 2018 to 2023.

The company’s latest report, ‘Tourism Destination Market Insights: UK & Ireland-Analysis of destination markets, infrastructure and attractions, and risks and opportunities,’ includes an analysis of source markets, infrastructure and attractions, and assesses the risks and opportunities for the U.K. and Ireland as destination markets. 

"Ireland received around 9.3 million international arrivals in 2018 and an increase of 3.9 percent is forecast for 2019, [bringing] around 9.7 million international travelers to Ireland," said Johanna Bonhill-Smith, associate analyst for travel and tourism at GlobalData. "Despite this growth, 2017 to 2018 held a yearly difference of 7 percent, nearly double the amount for the increase this year."

Source Markets

The U.K. holds the top position for international arrivals presently, due to accessibility, affordability and convenience in travel to Ireland. However, due to the ongoing negotiations, complete uncertainty and potential outcomes of Brexit, traveler flows also slowly dwindled, decreasing 4 percent from 6.8 percent in 2017 to 2018 to 1.7 percent from 2018 to 2019.  

European source markets dominate the Irish international arrivals lists for 2018 with countries such as Germany, France, Italy and Spain taking the lead.

"Despite overall slowdown with international arrivals, Canada forecasts as a promising source market for Ireland," said Bonhill-Smith. "Due to cultural similarities, the emergence of new flight routes followed by an increase in promotional campaigns to this North American destination, Canadian travelers are expected to grow by 7 percent from 2018 to 2019, further highlighting opportunities for growth within Ireland’s source markets."

Hotel Growth

In spite of the slowdown, hotels in Ireland seem to be performing well. In a December trading statement, Dermot Crowley, deputy chief executive of Irish hospitality giant Dalata, noted the company's growth over the last year. "We have delivered these projects on time and within budget. We have opened two new hotels in Dublin and a new hotel in each of Belfast and Newcastle...Early trading indications are very positive. As an example, Maldron Hotel Kevin Street in Dublin opened in July and achieved occupancy levels of over 90 percent in each of September and October. We also completed significant extensions at three of our Dublin hotels and one of our Galway hotels. We look forward to the opening of our new Clayton Hotel City of London in January."

According to CBRE, a total of 34 hotel deals worth more than €730 million were completed during 2018, not including investment sales. And as of November, GOPPAR growth for Dublin hotels was at 68.4 percent over the previous 36 months, hitting €96.51 in the 12 months to November.