TOURISM chiefs believe 'The Gathering effect' has taken hold as the industry is in line for a $1bn (€764m) spending boom amid a sharp rise in tourists from America, writes Louise Hogan.
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said the rise in tourism numbers suggested the major promotional bid targeting the Irish diaspora abroad was having a "real impact".
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show a rise of almost 8pc – to 1.25 million – in visitors to Ireland in the first three months of the year.
While visitor numbers from our nearest neighbour the UK may be falling, the numbers travelling long-haul from North America are swiftly climbing.
Visitors from the US rose over 16pc to 168,800 in the first quarter, while around 444,000 visits were paid by people living in Europe. In particular, visitors from the Nordic countries were up 31pc and the numbers from France were up 27pc.
The figures show the highest number of visitors to Ireland in the first quarter since 2009.
Tourism Ireland chief Niall Gibbons said the early figures suggest the industry could be on course for the "best year ever".