Ireland - Country Commercial Guide
Travel and Tourism

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-11-30

Overview 

Ireland has the highest per capita travel to the U.S. in Europe and is the third highest in the world, second only to Canada and Mexico.  Prior to 2020, over half a million Irish people, 11% of the Irish population travelled to the U.S. each year.  The Irish market ranks 15th on the global table of inbound travel and 7th in Europe in terms of expenditure in the U.S.  Two of the five international airports, Dublin and Shannon, operate transatlantic services daily while also providing daily European services with Cork, Kerry and Ireland West (Knock). 

Through the peak summer season, 211 direct flights or 56,355 seats a week, operate via Dublin and Shannon airports.   Direct routes operate to 13 U.S. airports: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York JFK, New Jersey Newark, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington.  

With the lifting of international travel restrictions, the current focus is on rebuilding and reviving travel to the U.S.  The resumption/re-launch of air routes between Ireland and the U.S. has seen over 210,000 Irish people travel to the U.S. since January 2022.  Ireland is the only country in Europe and one of only 2 countries outside of Canada and the Caribbean that has U.S preclearance at both Dublin and Shannon airports.  U.S. preclearance in Ireland allows U.S. bound passengers to clear all U.S entry controls such as immigrations, customs and agriculture prior to departure, so that on arrival in the U.S., travelers face no further entry controls. This preclearance encourages travelers from all over Europe and the United Kingdom to travel via Ireland to the States. Forecasts show that the Irish transatlantic travel market is expected to continue to grow, fueled by an increase in seat capacity, the opening of new direct routes, and expected economic growth. 

Leading Sub-Sectors 

The top U.S. destinations for Irish holidaymakers include New York, Florida, California, Nevada and Massachusetts. New York is the most popular destination for Irish visitors commanding a dominant 41% share of the Irish market.   

Shopping and sightseeing are the top activities for Irish travelers in the U.S. followed by national parks and monuments, historical locations and fine dining. Airlines, personal recommendations and online travel agencies are the main sources used by Irish travelers when planning their trip to the U.S.  

Some 55% of Irish visitors to the U.S. are visiting for vacation purposes, followed by business travel and visiting friends/relatives.  In terms of business travel alone, Ireland is the ninth largest investor in the United States.  As Irish companies expand their footprint stateside, a new generation of family and friends are visiting the United States for the first time.  

Opportunities 

The Irish economy had one of the strongest performances seen anywhere on the globe with a growth of 10.8% in the first quarter of 2022 and is expected to continue to grow. By the end of May this year, Irish household deposits stood at €144 billion, almost 30 per cent higher than at the onset of the pandemic.  

Higher disposal income influences Irish travellers to travel to long haul destinations like the United States for longer with increased overseas spending. In 2019, the mean number of days spent by Irish travellers in the U.S. was 125, an increase of 14.6% on the previous year.  

Over 81% of Ireland’s total population (just over 5 million, all age groups) are fully vaccinated. When surveyed after the pandemic, 58% of Irish visitors who intend to travel overseas plan to travel for holiday while 33.5% intend travelling to visit family and relatives. This provides a strong opportunity for the U.S. market with more than 31.5 million U.S. residents claiming Irish ancestry and strong family ties to Ireland.  Cultural tourism, musical heritage, small towns, and historical sites also represent opportunities to attract Irish visitors.   

Resources 

For further information about the Irish travel and tourism market contact: 

Julianne O Leary 

Commercial Advisor 

U.S. Commercial Service Dublin 

Tel: +353-1-237-5862  

Email: julianne.oleary@trade.gov