€80m boost expected for tourism industry
VISITORS flooding in for St Patrick's Day are expected to give the beleaguered tourism industry a €80m cash injection.
The combination of the St Patrick's Festival and Saturday's rugby international between Ireland and England will be a major boost for the sector.
Around 120,000 visitors -- mostly from the United States, UK, France and Germany -- are expected to spend well over €50m during the festivities.
Tourism chiefs are hoping English visitors will stay on for the crunch Six Nations match on Saturday, contributing even more to the local economy.
Final touches were yesterday being made to the St Patrick's Day procession in the capital, which is expected to attract 500,000 people.
Last year, the festival pulled in €50m from overseas tourists and another €9m from people living in Ireland, during what was perceived as being a poor year for the travel industry.
Yesterday, a spokesman for Failte Ireland said it hoped this year's spend would be 10pc up on the 2010 figure.
The festival is usually seen as being the starting gun for the Irish tourist season.
"This year we are already experiencing a pick-up," the spokesman said, adding that Saturday's rugby match was a "fortunate occurence".
The game will decide whether England will return with the Grand Slam title and is expected to bring about €18m to the economy, according to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.
The average rugby fan spends about €920 during a three- or four-night stay, said the chamber's chief executive Gina Quin.
It is estimated that 7,500 will travel to Ireland for the match and more are expected to travel down from Northern Ireland.
"Our estimates, based on historical data, indicate that the Six Nations match this weekend will generate significant gains to the Irish economy," said Ms Quin.