'Auld sod' creates huge buzz in US as top spot for holiday
Ireland – it's a dream destination for a holiday ranking alongside Italy.
Americans have named Ireland one of their dream destinations for holidays this year.
Top-selling newspaper 'USA Today' declared Ireland one of five "buzz-worthy destinations" in 2013 as a survey of Americans found it rivals Italy on their holiday wishlist.
The paper cited The Gathering marketing campaign promoting thousands of local events in Ireland this year as a reason for millions of people with Irish ancestry to consider a return to the "Auld Sod".
It put Ireland up there with Burma, Florida, Gettysburg and Hawaii as one of the most happening destinations in 2013.
The 'USA Today'/Gallup poll of 1,038 US adults found that while there's no place like home for 94pc of Americans planning a holiday this year, one-third of them are also planning a trip abroad during 2013.
"When asked where they'd visit if money was no object, nearly one-third of those polled mentioned Europe (with Italy and Ireland leading the pack)," the article declared.
It added that, while Ireland had seen its share of doom and gloom in the last few years, The Gathering did offer a year-long celebration of all things gaelic.
"So what better way to banish the Emerald Isle's economic blues than by inviting the estimated 70 million who claim Irish ancestry to return to the Auld Sod for a bit of frivolity?" it said.
Burma was chosen because of rising tourist interest due to US President Barack Obama's visit to the country in late 2012.
Florida was selected because it is celebrating 500 years of its discovery, while Gettysburg is celebrating 150 years since the crucial Civil War battle, and Hawaii is on the list as the dream destination of most Americans.
Tomorrow Failte Ireland will outline its projections for tourism in 2013 after a disappointing year in 2012 when the number of British visitors fell.
Marketing bodies are pinning their hopes on The Gathering as a means of attracting extra visitors, although actor Gabriel Byrne slammed the campaign as a "shakedown" of the Irish diaspora.