Tourists 'like' us, at least enough for a virtual visit
IRELAND is a big hit with virtual tourists, but there's no sign yet that they're actually making it to our shores.
The country is now the fifth most popular tourism destination in the world -- at least on Facebook -- according to Tourism Ireland.
A quarter of a million fans have signed up to the marketing body's page on the popular social networking site.
Tourism Ireland said that if you factored in friends of friends, its Facebook presence potentially gave it the scope to communicate with more than 32 million people -- based on each fan having an average of 130 friends.
Although there are no figures yet to indicate if this new virtual presence has borne any fruit in terms of attracting desperately needed visitors, it was vital to use social media to reach tourists, a Tourism Ireland spokesperson said.
The only countries outdoing Ireland were Australia with 1.4 million fans, New Zealand with 310,000, Spain with 280,000, and Croatia with 260,000.
The numbers visiting our shores plummeted to six million last year, down from more than eight million in 2007.