Overseas visitors  spend €5.3bn in Dublin last year  but airport must grow to cater for greater passenger numbers

by Rose Barrett
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Dublin city skyline

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) 2023 Review and 2024 Outlook shows that Irish tourism remains robust despite domestic cost challenges and international geopolitical events.

Estimating that tourism can achieve a further five per cent revenue growth in real terms in 2024, the ITIC also stated Dublin Airport* needs to be allowed to grow beyond its current passenger cap to cater for Ireland’s growing popularity as a tourist destination.

The airport authority, the daa, applied last month to Fingal County Council for a 15-year permission to expand its infrastructure services (including security, parking, access, etc) at Dublin Airport.  The application seeks permission for 11 distinct projects at the airport, along with an increase in passenger capacity from 32-40m per annum.

The ITIC estimated that €5.3bn will have been spent by international visitors while visiting Ireland in 2023 with 254,000 people working in the sector making it the country’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer. Tourism consumption amounted to €10bn in 2019 – 73pc from inbound tourists and 27pc from domestic trips.
Looking ahead, the organisation envisages a five per cent revenue growth in real terms in 2024 for the Irish tourism sector, with the North American market offering the best prospects.

Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, Chair of ITIC, said “The Irish tourism and hospitality industry has once again proved its resilience – it is vital to regional Ireland in particular providing livelihoods and economic activity where other sectors simply can’t reach”. 

Temple Bar

Fitzgerald added that with the right market mix there can be further revenue growth in 2024 however she highlighted that there could be an element of frustrated demand due to capacity and competitiveness concerns.

ITIC has highlighted tourism accommodation constraints as being a handbrake on growth with 20pc of hotel and guesthouse beds contracted to Government for refugees and asylum seekers and new short-term rental legislation likely to impact on self-catering properties. The tourism body has also said that Dublin Airport needs to be allowed grow beyond its current passenger cap.

CEO of ITIC, Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, said that businesses are concerned with rising costs as a result of Government legislation “The labour costs alone being imposed on businesses across the economy amount to about €4bn annually – this poses a significant burden for SMEs with tight profit margins and some of these costs should be offset by Government or else Irish competitiveness will be further eroded.” 

O’Mara Walsh reiterated Irish tourism’s commitment to sustainability and highlighted the significant efforts that are being made including all Shannon boat cruisers operating off hydro-treated vegetable oil next year rather than diesel.

ITIC pointed to the conflict in the Middle East and the war in Ukraine as events that could impact on consumer confidence. Fitzgerald Kane said “The Irish Government cannot influence international events but the challenges affecting the industry domestically do lie in their gift. Action is needed on ameliorating cost challenges, addressing capacity concerns, and improving competitiveness that will all help Ireland’s tourism and hospitality industry to continue on its path to full recovery.” 

*Dublin Airport catered for circa 1.5m passengers who travelled through Terminals 1 and 2 over the festive period, with 75,000 passengers estimated to pass through the capital’s airport between December 18 and January 6 next on a daily basis.

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