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Irish eyes smile on Spain as country again proves most popular destination

Author:   |  April 12th, 2017

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Aside from the UK, the most popular overseas destination for Irish tourists is Spain, by a long shot.

Aside from the UK, the most popular overseas destination for Irish tourists is Spain, by a long shot.

When is a holiday not a holiday? When it’s a trip taken by an Irish person to the UK. OK, as jokes go, that’s not the most amusing, but it is accurate, in a way: data from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) released this week show that the UK was the favoured overseas destination for the Irish last year, with 2.4 million trips made…

However, a large portion of those trips can be considered work- or family-related, and are not necessarily always classed as holidays. That’s the CSO’s line, and we’re running with it because their data also shows that, out of the 7.6 million trips abroad taken by the Irish last year, 1.5 million were to Spain.

And when one compares total expenditure by Irish tourists in 2016, it becomes immediately apparent why it is Spain, and not the UK, that is the most popular holiday destination among Irish people. Last year, some €993 million was spent by the Irish in the UK, from 2.4 million trips.

In contrast, the total Irish spend in Spain was €1.4 billion, from 1.5 million trips, which starkly highlights that Spain was the chosen destination for longer and more lavish breaks for the Irish.

This data was backed up by a recent poll by the AA, which surveyed the holiday and tourism preferences of 7,000 Irish people. It found that Spain was the most popular overseas destination among one in five would-be tourists, followed by the USA, Portugal, France and Italy.

Spain has topped this particular poll for the past five years.

Spain’s excellent weather and superb beaches and landscape has always attracted Irish holidaymakers, but increasingly it is the Costas’ affordability that is proving particularly alluring.

The AA poll found that many under-25s in Ireland are increasingly cost-conscious when it comes to travel, and Spain’s affordability and value for money is appreciated on the Emerald Isle.

“While more and more of us seem likely to spend our holidays abroad this year, there is no doubt that they remain a luxury for us all, and particularly for younger people who may be less financially secure,” said AA Director of Consumer Affairs, Conor Faughnan.

So while Spain was the preferred choice for 25% of those polled, it was actually the idea of a “staycation” in Ireland that garnered 15% – and second place – in the vote. But until Cork can match Marbella for sunshine, Spain is likely to remain out in front…

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