Travel broke pre-Covid totals in April, official figures showed as airports geared up for the June bank holiday weekend.
More than 1.785 million people arrived in the Republic from overseas in April, beating the same month in 2019, the year before Covid grounded travel, by 4.2 per cent, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The CSO released the figures as Ryanair prepared to launch its new service from Cork to Seville in Spain, over the holiday weekend, and confirmed that it would add an extra summer flight from the airport to the East Midlands in England from next week.
The CSO said both air and sea travel overtook pre-Covid levels in April. Total arrivals in the Republic during the same month in 2019 amounted to 1.713 million, the figures showed.
Last month’s totals were 21 per cent ahead of April 2022. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine slowed travel early last year, while the Irish Government persisted with some restrictions into February 2022.
“The recovery is seen in both modes of travel, air and sea, although the recovery in air travel is most pronounced, as it was up by 21.8 per cent in April 2023, compared with April 2022,” said Gregg Patrick, a statistician in the CSO’s tourism and travel division.
“The recovery is also spread across major routes, with transatlantic traffic up most, 40.6 per cent, in relative terms, increasing from 120,800 in April 2022 to 169,800 in April 2023.”
Airlines had only begun restoring transatlantic flights from the Republic in early 2022 after almost two years of minimal services.
In terms of continental Europe, Spanish routes remained the busiest, according to Mr Patrick, with arrivals growing 24 per cent to 245,900 in April over the same month last year.
The CSO counts both overseas visitors and Irish people returning home, the CSO noted.
Shannon Airport signalled on Monday that it expected the recovery to continue through the holiday weekend.
The State company predicted that more than 42,000 people would pass through there over the weekend, 18.5 per cent more than during the same period in 2022.
Ryanair’s Seville service joins nine other Spanish destinations served from Cork, including Málaga and Alicante, along with three in the Canary Islands.
Rubén López-Pulido, director with the Spanish Tourism Office in Ireland, noted that the city would host the Latin Grammy Awards and two high-profile tennis competitions: the men’s Davis Cup and the women’s Billie Jean King Cup.
Seville is the capital of Spain’s Andalucía region and attractions include the cathedral; the Real Alcázar, a renaissance palace combining Moorish and Gothic architecture; and the General Archive of the Indies, a museum of Spain’s involvement in the Americas.