This is the first quarterly increase since Q1 2011 for both tourist passengers and cars. Analysing these numbers on a country basis shows that for the Republic of Ireland, passenger numbers increased by 5% to 353,306 while car numbers increased by 1% to 99,277. For Northern Ireland, tourist numbers increased 4% to 260,144, while tourist car numbers increased by 2% to 80,029.
On the cross channel routes between the UK and the Island of Ireland, which accounts for 92% of total traffic, passenger numbers grew by 5%. Continental passenger traffic between Ireland and France fell by 15% during the first quarter. Quarter 1 tends to be the quietest quarter for the continental sector, which normally sees its busiest periods in Quarter 2 and Quarter 3.
While these headline figures represent positive news for the sector, the impact of Easter falling in Q1 instead of Q2 is likely to have had an impact on the passenger volumes. Initial data shows that passenger and tourist car numbers correspondingly declined in April due to the above factor, with overall numbers expected to be down for the first four months compared to same period last year.