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.
This is is according to the 2016 Europcar Tourism Index carried out by Europcar Ireland, one of Ireland’s largest car rental companies with over 160,000 tourists renting vehicles from Europcar last year.
The 2016 Europcar Tourism Index was conducted among 6,094 tourists who visited Ireland and rented Europcar vehicles between April and November 2016.
The research finds that the top three European countries tourists hail the UK (23%), Germany (5%) and France (4%). Outside of Europe, a large number of tourists (17%) are visiting from the US, 6% from Australia and 4% venture to Ireland from Canada.
Hotels emerged as the top form of accommodation for tourists in 2016 with two thirds booking a hotel for their stay in Ireland. Over half (55%) stayed in guesthouses and B&Bs, 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 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 was also an attraction for just over a quarter (26%).
According to the report, the West of Ireland is the most popular destination and 65% drive the Wild Atlantic Way.
Almost two thirds (65%) drive part of the Wild Atlantic Way during their time in Ireland and most (39%) spend 2-3 days travelling the western stretch, whereas 29% opt for a day-trip. Irish pubs were classed as the best places to eat along the WAW by 76% of tourists and most (62%) tourists were so impressed with their experience of the WAW that they would like to return and drive part of it again.
Not surprisingly, more than three-quarters (77%) of tourists taste Guinness during their trip.
Commenting on the 2016 Tourism Index, Business Development Director of Europcar Ireland, Colm Brady said, "The results of the 2016 Index shed interesting light on tourists’ holidays and attitudes towards Irish culture, services and infrastructure."
He added, "Similar to 2015, most of the Irish tourist base consists of our UK neighbours with the US close behind. With so many tourists hiring cars to explore the country and 65% driving some part of the Wild Atlantic Way it is reassuring to know that most (79%) feel safe when driving on Irish roads."