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The government aims to have a vibrant tourism sector that:

  • makes a contribution to employment across the country
  • is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable
  • helps promote a positive image of Ireland overseas
  • is a sector in which people want to work

The government's overall goals in relation to tourism are that:

  • to increase revenue from overseas visitors
  • to increase employment in the tourism sector
  • to promote Ireland as an attractive location for tourists from all over the world

How the government aims to achieve these goals is expanded on in the policy framework People, Place and Policy - Growing Tourism to 2025. The policy goals and objectives contained in the policy statement are delivered through a series of Action Plans. One of the first actions identified within the recently published Tourism Action Plan 2019-2021 commits to a review of sustainable tourism development in Ireland.

A working group has been established to review international policy and best practice in sustainable tourism and propose guiding principles for sustainable tourism development in Ireland. The Sustainable Tourism Working Group Report was endorsed by the Tourism Leadership Group at its meeting on 11th December 2019.

Tourism Marketing

Tourism is one of Ireland’s most important economic sectors. According to the latest estimates , in 2018, out of state (Overseas and Northern Ireland) tourists generated €5.6 billion for the Irish economy. This figure rises to €7.3 billion when fare receipts to Irish carriers are included. Domestic tourism was worth €2 billion, meaning the sector as a whole was worth €9.4 billion to the economy.

The government seeks to have a vibrant and competitive tourism sector that makes a significant contribution across the country, is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, helps promote a positive image of Ireland overseas, and enables local communities to prosper.

The positive images of Ireland that are highlighted in tourism marketing support the government's activities in other areas of economic development.

Domestic tourism is the bedrock for the Irish tourism industry. The domestic tourism market sustains a level of investment in tourism product that is of considerable benefit to Ireland’s attractiveness as a destination and provides an opportunity to both extend the season and deliver additional business that is more regionally dispersed.

Tourism Employment

The tourism sector is an essential component of Ireland’s employment base. It supports around 325,000 jobs on the island of Ireland. In addition, many third-level students are employed on a part-time or seasonal basis in the tourism industry. The income earned from this employment assists in meeting their living expenses and costs associated with third-level education.

The interaction between overseas visitors and those employed in our tourism sector is highly important. It creates a positive link between the qualities of Ireland as a place and the qualities of the Irish people. It is essential that the level of service provided to visitors is of the highest possible standard.

The government aims to strengthen the capacity of people working in the tourism sector, so the highest quality experience can be delivered to visitors. This also lets Ireland compete effectively for business in the international tourism marketplace.

Regulation of the Tourism Sector

Tourism enterprises are covered by many of the same statutory obligations as all other enterprises. However, there are areas of legislation which are particularly focused on the tourism industry.

Statutory regulation of visitor accommodation in Ireland is based on the Tourist Traffic Acts (1939 and 1998 ) and the National Tourism Development Authority Act 2003.

This body of legislation prescribes the use of 29 tourist accommodation descriptors, and assigns responsibility to Fáilte Ireland to put supporting regulation in place, and to maintain annual statutory registers of premises which use those descriptors.

Entities that are required to register include:

  • hotels
  • guest houses
  • holiday and youth hostels
  • caravan parks and camping sites
  • parks
  • self-catering accommodation (apartment and cottage properties in excess of 7 units on one site)
  • holiday camps

Read more

International Relations

Irish tourism can be supported through diplomatic activity and official visits.

The mix of highly attractive tourism destinations, high tolerance and stable political climate give Ireland an unparalleled advantage in the world tourism market.

In such markets where familiarity with Ireland is poor, promoting tourism often forms part of a wider effort to raise the profile of Ireland. A coordinated approach is crucial, with local market teams, chaired by the Ambassador, playing an important role in promoting tourism objectives in particular markets.


The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport recognises the benefits that can arise from the further development of Greenways in Ireland, as a tourism product with significant potential to attract overseas visitors, for local communities in terms of economic benefits, and for all users as an amenity for physical activity and a contributor to health and wellbeing.

The Greenways Strategy - Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways - was launched on 20th July 2018.

The objective of the Strategy is to assist in the strategic development of nationally and regionally significant Greenways in appropriate locations constructed to an appropriate standard in order to deliver a quality experience for all Greenways users. It also aims to increase the number and geographical spread of Greenways of scale and quality around the country over a 10 year period with a consequent significant increase in the number of people using Greenways as a visitor experience and as a recreational amenity.

Publications (35)

Ministers announce funding call for more Greenways

13 January 2020; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Press release;

Accessibility Work Programme

5 September 2019; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Collection;

All Statements of Strategy from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

31 July 2019; Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Collection;