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Tourists to Ireland tipped to hit 7.5 million next year

TOURISM bosses expect more than 7.5 million people to visit Ireland in 2013, a 5pc increase on this year.

Visitors from countries which escaped the worst ravages of the recession are key to growth, particularly Germany, France, and Scandinavia.

The Benelux countries of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg will also be targeted.

Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said that if the targets are met, some €3.7bn will be spent across the entire island.

Numbers from North America are expected to break records next year, with 1.1 million expected.

This is helped by a 20pc increase in the number of airline seats available.

But he admitted that tourists from the UK were falling, in part because of the financial crisis and also due to poor consumer sentiment.

He added that while Dublin, the main cities and popular tourist areas were recovering, rural and outlying areas were finding the going "harder".

Irish Independent