Gathering behind a 7pc rise in visitor numbers
THE Gathering initiative played a major role in attracting record numbers of visitors from the US and other countries in 2013.
More than eight million tourists descended on Ireland this year, which is a 7pc increase on last year's figure of 7.27 million visitors, according to Tourism Ireland, the national tourism body.
The tourism industry contributed some €3.6bn to the Irish economy this year, with the increase being attributed to events like The Gathering, as well as improved air and sea access to Ireland.
Record numbers of visitors from Canada, Germany, France, Spain and Australia came here this year, in addition to the US, from where more than one million tourists were welcomed.
In the year of The Gathering, the national initiative aimed at encouraging the 70 million people throughout the world who claim Irish ancestry to visit Ireland, the spend by American visitors was in excess of €700m.
Visitors from Britain, which has been a challenging market in recent years, according to Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons, were also up by 7pc in 2013, which he said was "encouraging".
A spokesperson for Tourism Ireland said there were a number of other factors for the increase in visitors here, including new airline routes introduced by Ryanair and Aer Lingus, which resulted in a 26pc increase in airline seats in flights from the US this summer.