Written Answers. - Tourist Numbers.

Michael Ferris

Ceist:

19 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation his views on the recently published figures on tourist numbers, particularly as they refer to tourism in the regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15030/98]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the official tourism and travel figures for the first quarter of 1998 which were released by the Central Statistics Office on Thursday, 11 June. These figures show that the number of overseas visitors grew by 11 per cent on the same period in 1997, from 781,000 to 867,000. While revenue figures are not yet available for the first quarter of 1998, the recent CSO release confirms that foreign earnings from tourism increased by 11 per cent in 1997 to exceed £2.1 billion.

The first three months traditionally accounts for 15 per cent of business and this year's double digit growth augurs well for the tourism season as a whole in 1998. As one of the key objectives of my Department's strategy for tourism development is to improve tourism activity outside the peak period, I am particularly pleased with this level of growth in the off-peak season.
The official CSO figures are national figures and do not provide details of visitors on a regional basis. However, figures compiled by Bord Fáilte, based on their survey of overseas travellers and CSO figures, indicate that visitor numbers and revenue increased in all regions in 1997. However, as I have indicated in the past, the development of tourism in the regions is a day to day matter for each regional tourism authority.