JacTravel, the UK-based B2B wholesaler, is reporting an exceptional period of growth in tourism to Ireland over the past three years, with particularly strong growth in the past year. Since 2009 JacTravel’s business has grown strongly but travel to Ireland has rocketed – Irish business has increased 223%, more than double, whereas UK business has grown 111%.
JacTravel puts this surge in growth down to measures taken by the Irish Government at the beginning of 2011 when it began to accept visitors with UK tourist visas and reduced the rates of Air Passenger Duty, from €10 in 2010 to €3 in 2011, and VAT applicable to tourism from 21% in 2010 to 9% in 2011.
JacTravel’s booking data is significant in indicating the performance of the destination because its customer base is highly diversified, with no country or business being responsible for more than 5% of its sales. The company sells to the travel industry through traditional channels and via XML, making bookings for independent travellers and groups.
Terry Williamson, Chief Executive, said: “There is no doubt in my mind that the desirability of Ireland as a destination has been enhanced by the pro-tourism measures taken by the Irish Government, which evidently understands the value of tourism as a great way to earn foreign currency.
“Belfast has been an accidental beneficiary of this initiative because, although it has not reduced taxes, it has profited from the increase in visitors to Ireland as a whole. If Westminster were to follow Dublin’s example, our industry would be hailed for being at the heart of an export-led recovery.”