Gathering boosts tourism by 2.6pc
TOURISM chiefs have claimed that a 30,000 increase in visitor numbers is proof that The Gathering is boosting tourism.
New figures from the Central Statistics Office, show that 1,176,100 people visited Ireland between December 2012 and February 2013, an increase of 2.6pc.
Tourism Minister Michael Ring said the increase was due to The Gathering, and added he was "particularly pleased with the strong numbers from North America, Australia and New Zealand.
"These are key markets for The Gathering which is clearly already playing its part for tourism."
He said that Britain "continues to be challenging", with CSO figures showing a 23.4pc drop in visitors, but said that he believed the tourism industry could use The Gathering events "to make the most of the opportunities for Ireland in that market".
Meanwhile, the tiny village of Ballymoe in Co Galway has extended one of the more unusal invites for The Gathering celebrations.
Dubbing itself the town of 1,000 beards, Ballymoe hopes to break the world record for having the largest number of bearded men in one place on June 28.
But organiser John Griffin insists the event is equal opportunity and any woman sporting a hirsute look can take part.
"We're hoping to have some bearded women also, we've potions and lotions to help and there's a ban on Imac and other products."