Number of tourist visitors to Ireland up half a million
NEARLY half a million extra tourists visited Ireland during 2013 making it the best year for tourism since 2008.
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said The Gathering marketing initiative had been enormously successful in drawing extra visitors, with a record number coming from North America.
"The fact that we achieved our highest ever number of North American visitors in 2013 is a credit to the communities across Ireland who staged gatherings and festivals during 2013," he said.
New Central Statistics Office figures show there were 6,986,000 overseas visitors to Ireland during 2013, some 468,700 more than the previous year, a rise of 7.2pc
The tourism boom extended to the final three months of the year when there was a 9.9pc boost in visitor numbers.
There was a particularly important 12.5pc increase in the number of visitors from Britain in the final three months as this is Ireland's most important source of tourists but has seen a drop-off in recent years.
Overall the number of visitors from Britain was up 5.6pc in the year, the numbers from North America were up 13.9pc and the numbers from other European countries were up by 115,600 or 4.9pc.
Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said the aim is to keep the momentum going during 2014 to build on last year's success.