Friday 19 December 2014

More tourists flocking to Ireland

Published 09/01/2013 | 14:05

The British Queen, pictured meeting well-wishers in Dublin, was the most high-profile visitor to Ireland last year

Ireland is welcoming more and more tourists from around the globe - except Britain, latest figures reveal.

An official survey shows an almost 4% jump in the number of overseas visitors between last September and November, compared with the same three months the previous year.

Numbers arriving from North America rose nearly 20% to 269,500 during the period, which took in the Notre Dame v US Naval Academy American football game at Dublin's Aviva Stadium. The event attracted an estimated 35,000 people from the US.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) report also reveals an almost 6% hike in tourists coming from continental European countries and a near 8% increase in visitors from all other parts of the world.

But despite the high-profile historic trip by Queen Elizabeth II in 2011, the number of visits to Ireland from Britain has taken a tumble.

There was a 3% drop - down to 673,700 - in arrivals from our nearest neighbours across the Irish Sea.

Despite that fall-off, Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said he was encouraged by strong growth in visitor numbers from Europe, North America and other long-haul routes.

"Our marketing efforts have moved up a level to promote the Gathering 2013, and have received a further boost with Ireland's inclusion in Fodor's Travel Go List of top destinations to visit in 2013," he said.

"USA Today has included The Gathering Ireland 2013 in its five 'buzz-worthy destinations for 2013', while Rick Steves' has included a hurling match as one of the '8 magical experiences in Europe'."

Mr Varadkar added: "This positive coverage will help us to fill the expected 20% extra capacity on transatlantic flights into Ireland this summer."

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