Overview of Tourism Industry 

Tourism is one of Ireland's most important economic sectors and has significant potential to play a further role in Ireland's economic renewal. In 2016, tourism was responsible for overseas earnings of €4.577 billion (excluding carrier receipts – airfares and ferry costs). Combining the data from the domestic market and international visitors, total tourism revenue for the economy in 2016 was around €7.832 billion (including carrier receipts). The tourism sector supports 148,300 jobs in the accommodation and food sector alone, and overall employment in tourism is estimated to be in the region of 220,000. Tourism also shapes Ireland’s image and attractiveness as a place to live, work and invest.

Data from the Central Statistics Office for 2016 show that overall visits to Ireland in 2016 rose by 10.9% (9.584 million trips). Core tourism visits grew strongly with holiday trips up 9.6% and business trips up 6.8%. Visits to friends and relatives in Ireland rose by 11.1%. Spending by visitors to Ireland also increased in 2016, with total tourism and travel earnings from overseas visitors (incl. fares) growing by 9.5% to €6.056 billion.

Role of Department (Tourism Division), Tourism Agencies and Others

The Department's Tourism Division sets national tourism policy, providing the strategic direction required to support the growth of a competitive and sustainable tourism industry, through the development, implementation and influencing of a range of policy actions and programmes by the Department, its Agencies and other Government Departments, in consultation with industry partners.  The tourism agencies, operating under the aegis of the Department, have been established to deal with the administration of that policy.

Fáilte Ireland was established under the National Tourism Development Authority Act 2003, following the amalgamation of Bord Fáilte Éireann and CERT, to encourage, promote and support tourism as a leading indigenous component of the Irish economy. 

Tourism Ireland was formally incorporated on 11 December 2000 following the designation of tourism as an area for cooperation under the Good Friday Agreement (1998), to carry out the overseas promotion of tourism to the island of Ireland.  Tourism Ireland is accountable to the North South Ministerial Council, with funding being provided by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland.

Fáilte Ireland's principal functions are the development of quality tourism product, domestic tourism marketing, tourism standards, enterprise support, capability building and human resource development for the tourism industry.    Tourism Ireland's primary remit is to promote the island of Ireland as a tourist destination in overseas markets. 

There is a wide range of other bodies, some with direct roles in developing tourism facilities and some whose role, while not specifically focused on tourism, is critical to the quality of the tourist experience in Ireland.  These include:

•          National and local bodies involved in planning, providing and managing environmental and transport infrastructure;

•          National and local heritage organisations, who are responsible for key attractions;

•          Locally-based tourism groups and LEADER companies, and their parent or funding bodies, who are directly involved in supporting small-scale developments

•          The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service and Garda National Immigration Bureau; and

•          Public and private transport operators – from airlines to local bus operators.


Tourism Policy Review

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