THE continuing underperformance of the British tourism market is a 'major' worry for the Kerry industry facing into 2013.
The numbers of British tourists to Ireland remained at an all-time low throughout 2012 in Kerry, as in the rest of the country; a trend of mounting concern for the industry here.
However, the growth of the American market in Kerry, The Gathering 2013 and a new Tourism Ireland marketing initiative in the UK has led to renewed optimism among operators in Kerry.
"I think the majority of tourist operators in Kerry are looking forward with much greater optimism to 2013 than was the case facing into 2012," spokesman for the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotels Federation Michael Rosney said.
"We're hopefully beyond the lowest point in tourism nationally and on the verge of clawing our way back to whatever the new apex levels will be," Mr Rosney added.
The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) released its end of year report this week which showed little or no growth in the industry nationally.
The report underlined the continuing inability to attract greater numbers of British tourists, but showed that Dublin and some ' top tourism honey spots' did have a good year.
"Killarney would be among those ' hotspots'," Mr Rosney said. "And it has shown recovery, certainly performing much better than in 2011. The growth of the American market is in no small way behind that and American visitors are optimal ones in that they tend to stay longer and penetrate more deeply into the county.
"The American market is very important to Kerry and we hope The Gathering will really pay off as a lot of resources and creative thinking have gone into it."
A new initiative from Tourism Ireland marketing Ireland as a domestic, rather than foreign, destination in the UK is also the source of renewed hope.
"There's a certain logic to it in that a person from London can get to Dingle as fast as they could to many parts of the UK so we hope it will prove successful and attract more from Britain here," Mr Rosney added.
He said there was also 'cautious' optimism in relation to visitors from the continent in 2013 and believes the industry has finally brought its prices under control.
"There is certainly much greater value on offer here than ever before."