More than three quarters (77%) of survey respondents had tasted Guinness during their trip and the top three Irish cultural activities enjoyed by tourists are ranked as:-
- Visiting an area of natural beauty
- Visiting a historical site
- Listening to traditional Irish music.
50% of visitors hear or speak the Irish language while in Ireland and over two fifths (43%) enjoy traditional Irish stew before returning home. Indeed, the research shows that Irish food in general is well received by tourists, with 46% rating the cuisine in this country as very good quality, with Irish pubs classed as the best places to eat along the Wild Atlantic Way by 76% of tourists.
The Europcar Tourism Index also reveals that more than one third (37%) of tourists visited Ireland for the first time in 2016 but over half (57%) have holidayed in Ireland more than once. However the top three European countries of origin are ranked as the UK (23%), Germany (5%) and France (4%). Outside Europe, a large number of tourists are visit from the US (17%), 6% from Australia and 4% venture to Ireland from Canada.
Hotels are the top form of accommodation for tourists with two thirds booking a hotel for their stay in Ireland. Over half (55%) stayed in guesthouses and B&Bs in 2016, 47% chose to stay with family or friends, 26% opted for self-catering accommodation and a significant number (20%) embraced accommodation sharing via Airbnb or Couchsurfing.
Of the 66% who stayed in hotels, 43% decided on a four star hotel, 31% went with three star and 9% chose five star. Most (52%) tourists paid between €101 and €200 per night for their hotel and 71% felt that their hotels were good value for money. The warm Irish welcome was felt by 83% who rated hotel staff as very friendly and helpful and 68% considered their hotel WiFi to be good or very good.
In 2016 18% of Irish car renters organised a staycation in Ireland and almost one in five (19%) chose a domestic break as their main annual holiday last year. The majority (49%) of these staycationers paid on average €100 or less per night for hotel accommodation while 40% paid slightly more – between €101 and €200. Cork and Kerry were the most popular regions for 32% of staycationers to visit but the West of Ireland also attracted just over a quarter (26%).
Wild Atlantic Way
According to the research, word of the Wild Atlantic Way is widespread in other countries with 51% of tourists having heard of the region before their visit. Almost two thirds (65%) drive part of the Wild Atlantic Way during their time in Ireland and 39% spend two or three days travelling the western stretch whereas 29% opt for a day-trip.
Most (62%) tourists were so impressed with their experience of the WAW that they’d like to return and drive part of it again.
“Overall 2016 has been another positive year for the tourism sector with an increase of 11.6% in overseas visitors to Ireland for the first 10 months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015 according to the CSO,” commented Colm Brady, Business Development Director of Europcar Ireland, “The results of the 2016 Index shed interesting light on tourists’ holidays and attitudes towards Irish culture, services and infrastructure.”