Bollywood boost for tourism sector
Hopes new movie shot in capital will lure visitors from India
TOURISM chiefs are hopeful a Bollywood blockbuster shot in Ireland will draw holidaymakers from the lucrative markets of India and Asia.
Salmon Khan and Katrina Kaif, leading actors in the massive Indian film industry, were filming on the streets of Dublin yesterday as new figures revealed a rise in the number of tourists visiting Ireland. The number of visitors to the end of July was up 12pc to more than 3.6 million compared with 3.3 million in the same period last year.
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, insisted the figures painted a more "positive picture", despite snow and volcanic ash leading to widespread disruption and flight cancellations last year.
Mr Gibbons said the industry was facing "intense competition from other destinations" and was affected by the worldwide economic uncertainty.
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said the figures must be viewed in light of a major drop-off in tourism numbers in the last few years.
He stressed it was important to ensure that Ireland remained value for money.
Visitors from Europe and North America both increased by more than 9pc to 679,000 and 368,000 respectively.
The number of holidays taken by UK residents to Ireland also rose to more than three-quarters of a million visitors.
Amid a major 'staycation' promotion and reduced spending, the number of trips taken by Irish people abroad fell by 3.5pc over the summer months.
Mr Gibbons said the autumn period would prove important for the industry -- which employs around 200,000 people -- with more than 30pc of the business taking place during that period.
He said more people were choosing shorter holidays.
Just 62,600 of the visitors in the first seven months were from Africa, South America, the Middle East and Asia, including India.
However, tourism chiefs voiced hopes the Bollywood film 'Ek Tha Tiger', telling the story of a Trinity College scientist suspected of selling missile technology secrets to Pakistan, would prove a hit among India's growing middle classes.
Countries including Switzerland, Britain and New Zealand have reported a boost in tourism following Bollywood films shot in their areas.
"Bollywood is deep-rooted in the psyche of most Indians and the films have a considerable influence on Indian travellers when they are deciding on their holiday destination," Mr Gibbons said.