20pc increase in tourists from North America
THE number of visitors from North America grew by 20pc this summer over last year, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office.
The key US and Canada market showed impressive gains of 19.9pc during the peak summer tourist months of June, July and August this year, compared to the same period last year, for a total of 437,900 return trips.
To date, some 300,000 overseas visitors have come as part of The Gathering, which has a target of 325,000 overseas visitors by the end of the year.
Transport and Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said the figures were proof that the tourism initiative was paying off.
"Improved value for money, better air access and The Gathering have all combined to give us an excellent year for inbound tourism. It looks like being a record year from North America, and I am reassured by growth from Britain. We now need to build on this success in 2014," he said.
Overall, the number of tourists this summer increased by 142,000 over the same time last year to more than two million. A total of 2,264,800 return trips were made between June and August, an increase of 6.7pc over the same period last year.
Visitors from the UK represented the biggest group, with 879,500 visits during June, July and August, a rise of 4.7pc.
Visitors from eastern Europe, Switzerland, Turkey and other European countries were the third-biggest group with 172,600 visits, followed by Germany (169,100); France (136,900); other areas – including Africa, Asia and the Middle East – at 86,000; followed by Benelux countries (79,500); Italy (77,400); Australia and New Zealand (66,700); and Scandinavia (63,400).
Meanwhile, tourist boards from America's deep south will be trying to lure Irish tourists off the beaten track next weekend. More than 36 exhibitors – including tourist boards from Las Vegas, New York and more unusual locations in the US – will be providing information on activities throughout the US.
It is the 13th year that Tour America, along with Cruise Holidays, has staged its annual sale day, which this year will take place at the Red Cow Moran Hotel, Dublin, on Sunday, October 6, from 10am.
There will be a competition for a holiday to Orlando, flights with Delta Airlines and a seven-night stay at the Enclave Hotel. Further information is on the Tour America Facebook page.