Tourism chiefs pin hopes on €25m boost over Easter
TOURISM chiefs are this weekend praying for a financial boost in the face of the chill winds of winter and recession.
There are a host of festivals and activities around the country to celebrate the Easter weekend. Failte Ireland estimate they could yield around €25m for the economy -- with 50,000 overseas visitors expected.
"That's not to mention all the activity at home and all the people who will be travelling around the country to the various festivals," said a spokesman.
It comes as new figures show visitors to Ireland plummeted once again in January of this year.
The latest Central Statistics Office figures reveal that 313,800 people came here during the first month of the year, down from 424,200 in January 2009, with a particularly sharp fall in British visitors (32pc) and European visitors (29pc), but a smaller 2pc fall in American tourists.
Trips abroad by Irish people also fell but not nearly as sharply, with people making 448,900 foreign journeys, down 10.6pc on the same time last year.
Tourism Ireland said that the first months of 2010 had been extremely difficult and the new CSO figures showed the impact of that.
"The treacherous weather conditions experienced in Britain and across mainland Europe at the beginning of the year, which resulted in widespread airport closures and led authorities to discourage all unnecessary travel, have certainly impacted on visitor numbers," Tourism Ireland Chief Executive Niall Gibbons said.
But tourism chiefs believe this weekend will see an upturn in fortunes, with the "tourism season now in full flow". More than 212,000 passengers are expected to travel through Dublin Airport.
Around 1,700 flights will arrive and depart during the weekend, including 40 charter flights to sun destinations including Lanzarote, Tenerife, Fuerteventura and Las Palmas.
In Dublin on Sunday, thousands are expected to converge at the GPO on O'Connell Street to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising, starting at 11.45am.
In Trim, the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta takes place all weekend, with up to 20 different balloons performing aerial displays. Among them will be a giant Easter Bunny, Darth Vader, Thomas the Tank Engine and Sonic the Hedgehog.
At the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare, the Seabirds Festival began yesterday. Visitors can listen in on wildlife lectures and take part in puffin viewing.
Families with young children can enjoy an Easter egg hunt at Birr Castle Demesne in Co Offaly. Children will hunt for hand-painted wooden eggs before swapping them with the Easter Bunny for chocolate.