Tourism boon: hundreds of thousands of extra visitors
HUNDREDS of thousands more visitors are flocking to Ireland after a publicity drive and more flights were put on, tourism chiefs have said.
Latest official figures show a more than 10% jump in the number of people travelling to the country during the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year.
Visitors from Britain - a key target for tourism authorities - have increased almost 14%.
However the numbers travelling across the Irish Sea remain less than they were six years ago.
Nearly a fifth more Germans are taking trips to Ireland, there has been a 22% rise in Spaniards visiting and almost 11% more North Americans staying in the country.
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said a total of 324,400 more tourists arrived on our shores compared with January to June last year.
"2014 is also set to be another record year for tourism from North America, with growth of 10.6% recorded for the first six months of this year," he said.
"And it is very encouraging to see growth from other important tourism markets - including Germany (up 18%), Spain (22%), Italy (4%) and our long-haul markets (up 13.6%)."
Tourism bosses have been focusing on the Wild Atlantic Way, major events like Limerick City of Culture and the Croke Park Classic - when the University of Central Florida takes on Penn State in their college football season opener - to attract visitors this year.
They say the introduction of a number of new air routes into Ireland has been a significant contributing factor to the rise in visitors.
Delegations are planning trips to China, Australia and New Zealand in the coming months to promote the country as a destination.