NEW YORK -- Transatlantic tourism to the British Isles has
skyrocketed in the first few months of 2004, with U.S. air arrivals
in Great Britain rising by as much as 21% and overall North
American tourism to Ireland growing by nearly 23%.
VisitBritain officials said that 764,000 Americans landed in the
U.K. from February to April -- compared to just 631,000 in the same
period last year -- representing a 21% growth and comprising 12.7%
of all arrivals.
For the four months of the year, VistiBritain saw a slightly
lower 17% growth from the States, according to its International
Passenger Survey. In total, 6 million international visitors
traveled to Britain, the highest number of visitors ever recorded
in the period.
Rob Franklin, executive vice president at VisitBritain for the
Americas, said the figures are evidence that long pent-up demand
for a U.K. holiday finally is being released.
What's more, Franklin said that "feedback from trade partners is
positive and to be 17% up on last year for the January to April
period really sets the stage for a good year."
VisitBritain attributed the rebound to its media and direct-mail
"Britain Just Go!" and "Spring Main Campaign" promotions in the
Meanwhile, things were looking good across the Irish Sea, as
well, with U.S. and Canadian arrivals in Ireland rising 22.7%, to
173,000, in the first three months of 2004, compared to the same
quarter in 2003, when just 141,000 visited, according to Dublin's
Central Statistic Office.
By way of comparison, overall visits from all source markets
grew by 8.4% in the same period, while earnings rose 5%.
North American bed nights in the first quarter rose 16%, to 1.36
million; hotels were the most popular accommodations option,
accounting for 33% of bed nights, followed by friends' and
relatives' homes (30%); guest houses and bed-and-breakfasts (14%);
and rented apartments or homes (13%).
A "very satisfied" and "optimistic" Irish tourism minister John
O'Donoghue said he was "particularly pleased to see the strong
visitor numbers from North America" but cautioned that "it is too
early to make any call for the full year."
To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].