Sport Tourism catalyst for continued tourism growth

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There has been an extremely positive start to 2015 for the tourism industry with Tourism Ireland reporting overseas visitor numbers up 9% between November 2014 and January 2015, accounting for an additional 123,200 visiting Ireland in this period.

Tourism Ireland Marketing Strategy 2015 outlines plans to welcome a total of 7.74 million visitors to Ireland in 2015. This is a growth of +6% on 2014, delivering almost €4 billion to the Irish economy (+7%).  The international marketing campaign on the Wild Atlantic Way offers an opportunity for sport tourism providers to capitalise on the 64.1 million ‘Great Escapers’ target market. With over 1,500 activities to pursue along the Wild Atlantic Way, it is the sport and adventure tourist’s dream to explore and awaken the senses.

Hosted by the Rory Foundation at Royal County Down, the Irish Open tees off on May 28-31 2015. Already set to be a sold-out event for over 80,000 spectators, it offers increased opportunity to showcase Irelands 400 golf courses including +30% of the world’s links courses. Ireland has a strong legacy with golf tourism as an important economic sector providing a total overseas spend of €217m for the Irish economy in 2013 alone. With an average length of stay of 13 days for overseas visitors to Ireland, each overseas golf tourist is worth €1,200 to the economy, two and a half times that of the average tourist. Notably 53% of overseas visitors to Ireland engaging in Golf in 2013 were repeat visitors, providing significant potential to build on the current economic upturn and build on the national profile as a golf tourism destination.

Sport tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global travel and tourism industry with Ireland in a prime position to capitalise on high spend tourists. In the longer term, it is the aim to welcome 10 million visitors to Ireland in 2025, contributing €5 billion to the economy and helping to sustain about 250,000 jobs.