" /> Back to Top

 Skip navigation

What is tourism?

Tourism encompasses most short-term travel away from a persons normal place of work or residence and includes not just holiday, leisure and recreational travel, but also travel for the purposes of visiting friends and relatives, business, education, religious, health or other reasons. 

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UN-WTO) defines 'tourism' as the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited.

Why is Tourism important?

Tourism is an important measure of the economic activity of the country. It helps to drive employment in a number of sectors such as hospitality and food, particularly in the locations and visitor attractions that are very popular with tourists. The revenue generated by both domestic and foreign visitors during their trip contributes to both the balance of payments and national accounts data.  Organisations such as Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland have a role in marketing Ireland as a holiday and business destination for both our overseas and domestic visitors.

What does Tourism and Travel Section do?

The Tourism and Travel Section of the Central Statistics Office is the major source for tourism statistics in Ireland. Irish tourism can be categorised into three distinct markets:

  1. Inbound tourism (foreign tourists coming to Ireland)
  2. Outbound (Irish tourists going abroad)
  3. Domestic tourism (Irish tourists staying in Ireland)

Tourism and Travel Section collects tourism data on an ongoing basis through 3 surveys:

  • Country of Residence Survey (CRS)
  • Passenger Card Inquiry (PCI)
  • Household Travel Survey (HTS)

Both the CRS and PCI are conducted by CSO interviewers on a continuous sample survey of incoming and departing passengers at major air and sea ports. Information provided by the CRS is published in the form of a rolling three month release titled Overseas Travel. Information provided by the PCI is published in the form of a quarterly release titled Tourism and Travel. Information provided by the HTS is published in the form of a quarterly release titled Household Travel Survey.

What is the Country of Residence Survey (CRS)?

The Country of Residence Survey is used to provide an analysis of arriving and departing (overseas) passengers by country of residence. This survey allows the CSO to measure the number of non-Irish residents travelling into the Republic of Ireland and the number of Irish residents travelling abroad.

What is the Passenger Card Inquiry (PCI)?

The Passenger Card Inquiry provides information on the reason for journey, area of residence, length of stay, expenditure and fare costs of visitors to Ireland and Irish visitors overseas. Type of accommodation used is also recorded for overseas passengers. The results are combined with the overall visitor estimates from the Country of Residence Survey to provide the overseas tourism and travel estimates.

What is the Household Travel Survey (HTS)?

The purpose of the HTS is to measure domestic and foreign travel patterns involving overnight stays and associated details (expenditure, purpose of trip, type of accommodation used, average length of stay) of Irish residents. The HTS also covers all non-routine overnight trips, both domestic and foreign. The information is collected via a postal survey which is conducted on a monthly basis. Every month, over 4,600 households (or approximately 0.3% of all private households) are randomly selected from the Electoral Register, where the selection is stratified by District Electoral Division.

What about Confidentiality?

The details given in the surveys are strictly confidential. This is guaranteed by law, under the Statistics Act, 1993. Individual details cannot be given in an identifiable form to any person or organisation.

Who uses Tourism and Travel Statistics?

The data collected by Tourism and Travel Section is used by:

  • Irish government departments
  • The European Union
  • Macro-economists
  • Analysts and researchers with an interest in economic trends
  • Other special interest groups
  • Internal producers of macroeconomic estimates
Related Information

Further information is available as follows:

Alternatively, you may contact:

Information Section
Tel: +353-21-4535000
Email: information@cso.ie

Tourism and Travel Section
Email: tourism@cso.ie.