Ireland: A 77% Decrease in Tourists Entries In 2020 Due To The Pandemic

Alexandre Desoutter Alexandre Desoutter  updated on 2021-01-29


… is the number of tourists lost in one year from 2019 to 2020 in the Republic of Ireland due to the negative impact of Covid-19. Indeed, this number goes from 18,771,100 in 2019 down to only 4,295,800 over 2020. This difference represents a decrease of 77.1% in only one year. This number illustrates the dramatic consequences of the pandemic on tourism in Ireland.

The data provided for this study concerns the Republic of Ireland only. The numbers variation in the below tables have to be interpreted not only in the context of the pandemic, but also considering the normal seasonality of tourism figures.

Focus on the number of tourists in Ireland during the past year

As in many countries across the world, 2020 has been a terrible year for the tourism industry in the Republic of Ireland. In the below table, we observe that the number of arrivals in Eire decreases dramatically from March 2020 (635,000 entries) to April 2020 (16,100).

This decline of 97.47% can be explained by all the measures taken by the Irish government to stop the pandemic, which resulted in restrictions for foreigners to enter the national territory. However, we can see that the number of arrivals rose in May (+ 75.78%), with a progressive recovery until August 2020. This temporary progress was possible thanks to the easing of restrictions during this period and by the fact that people tend to travel more in the summer season.

Months Number of arrivals in Ireland Growth rate
Jan.2020 1,235,100/
Feb.20201,215,100– 1.62%
Mar.2020635,000– 47.74%
Apr.202016,100– 97.47%
May 202028,300+ 75.78%
Jun.202057,100+ 101.77%
Jul.2020227,300+ 298.08%
Aug.2020362,600+ 59.53%
Sep.2020254,400– 29.84%
Oct.2020160,900– 36.75%
Nov.2020103,900– 35.43%
Number of arrivals in Ireland and change rate during year 2020 (Source: CSO Ireland)

Then, starting from August 2020, the number of arrivals is decreasing again (- 29.84%) with the second wave of the virus in Europe and with autumn traditionally being the poorest season for tourism in Ireland.

From which parts of the world did tourists come in 2020?

We observe in the below table that the number of arrivals decreases a lot from 2019 to 2020, no matter from which part of the world. Indeed, the decrease rate of entries per geographical origin does not go below 71.5% (United Arab Emirates)! This rate even goes down to more than 90% for the “other transatlantic” category.

As always, the majority of tourists in Ireland in 2020 came from the United Kingdom, (7,037,200 tourists in 2019 ; 1,747,100 in 2020). A lot of tourists are also coming from Spain: 2,236,200 in 2019 and still 399,500 in 2020 despite the pandemic. It is no surprise to see that the majority of tourists come from the EU and the UK since it is geographically closer to Ireland and easier to travel to with restrictions due to the pandemic.

Parts of the worldNumber of arrivals in 2019Proportion (%)Number of arrivals in 2020Proportion (%)Change rate
United Kingdom7,037,20037.49%1,747,10040.67%– 75.2%
Belgium 230,6001.23%57,6001.34%– 75.0%
Germany 1,169,4006.23%243,2005.66%– 79.2%
Spain 2,236,20011.91%399,5009.30%– 82.1%
France 1,146,6006.11%229,7005.35%– 80.0%
Italy 764,5004.07%161,8003.77%– 78.8%
Netherlands 683,8003.64%201,5004.69%– 70.5%
Poland 467,1002.49%196,2004.57%– 58.0%
Portugal 659,1003.51%115,7002.69%– 82.5%
Other EU271,307,1006.96%382,6008.91%– 70.7%
Switzerland 235,5001.25%52,6001.22%– 77.7%
Other Europe 214,4001.14%49,9001.16%– 76.7%
United States 1,766,1009.41%270,2006.29%– 84.7%
Other Transatlantic 253,6001.35%25,2000.59%– 90.1%
United Arab Emirates 302,1001.61%86,0002%– 71.5%
Other Destinations 297,8001.59%77,0001.79%– 74.2%
Arrivals in 2019 and 2020 in Ireland coming from the different parts of the world (Source: CSO Ireland)

What are the reasons for departures and entries in Ireland?

Te below graph shows the reasons why people traditionally travel to Ireland and why Irish people go overseas. These numbers are from the last quarter of 2019, meaning before the pandemic start. Indeed, those numbers aren’t biased by the Covid-19 crisis, and are representative of a “normal” period of time.

Number of overseas trips to Ireland and trips by Irish residents overseas in 2019 (Source: CSO Ireland)

The majority of people are coming to Ireland for holidays, leisure or recreation (1,040,000 travelers over the last quarter of 2019). That’s also the principal reason for Irish citizens to leave their country (1,161,000). On the other hand, very few Irish people leave for business (only 216,000). But, almost 400,000 are coming to Ireland for business in the last 3 months of 2019. Indeed, Ireland attracts a lot of companies due to its attractive taxation.

Over the same period of time, nearly 800,000 people came to Ireland to visit friends or relatives. On the other way round, 477,000 Irish are going overseas for the same reason. There is very few people coming in Ireland for another reason that the three listed above (318,000). It’s even fewer for Irish people: only 55,000 are going overseas for another reason than holiday, business or to visit a friend/relative.

The two nationalities whose entries into the Republic of Ireland have declined the most


– 84.7% of tourists in 2020


– 82.5% of tourists in 2020

Antoine Fruchard, insurance expert and CEO at

With all the restrictions going all around the world to stop the pandemic, it was very difficult to travel during the past year. Indeed, the data show that there has been less tourists in 2020 than in 2019 in the Republic of Ireland but also in the rest of the world. This complex situation will stop only when the Covid-19 will be under control. In the meantime, the tourism sector will continue to suffer from all countries’ restrictions. We surely hope that 2021 will be better for tourism with the control of the pandemic and the return of the pre-Covid indicators.”

Our methodology

This study has been built upon data released by Central Statistics Office Ireland. All of the data set out in this study was collected by the Irish government. We tried, throughout our study, to highlight the principal trends in Ireland regarding the arrivals and departures in the tourism sector main facts and figures. All data must be interpreted in the context of the actual pandemic and explains the discrepancy that may exist regarding previous years’ data.

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