The improved performance of Irish tourism and its contribution to employment growth since 1987 can be attributed in part to a more focused concentration of government efforts, improved access transport policies, liberalization of air fares, more favourable external demand factors, and increased European input through structural funds and the resulting emphasis on tourism investment. A total of 5.534 million people visited Ireland during 1998, and figures show that 5.007 million visited in 1997. Consequently, the numbers have increased by eleven percent over the period.