Ireland could welcome 10 million visitors spending €5 billion a year by 2025, if a new government policy is successful.
‘People, Place and Policy – Growing Tourism to 2025’, was launched in Kilkenny today by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe.
The Policy Statement targets 250,00 tourism jobs and revenues of €5 billion a year by 2025.
A "possible repeat" of The Gathering will be pursued, according to a statement from the Minister's department, which also reaffirms that the special 9pc VAT rate will be maintained as long as the tourism sector remains cost-competitive.
7.6 million tourists visited Ireland in 2014, spending some €3.5 billion.
Speaking at the launch - which was also attended by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny - Minister Donohoe said that he hoped the new Policy's "ambitious targets" would maintain the "positive momentum" generated by four years of successive tourism growth.
An estimated 200,000 people are employed in Irish tourism at present.
The Statement, built around a framework of ‘People, Place and Policy’, represents a clear statement of what the government wants to achieve for Irish tourism in the coming decade, Minister Donohoe said.
It places a strong emphasis on tourism marketing, a "whole-of-government" approach, and the "vital role" of local communities and Local Authorities in leading and supporting tourism.
It also sees a significant shift from Irish tourism's traditional emphasis on growing visitor numbers to an increase in the economic contribution of overseas visits, and ultimately exports.
A focus on festivals and events that offset the seasonal nature of tourism is also emphasised, "including a possible repeat of the Gathering", according to a press release from the Minister's department.
The Tourism Policy Statement has been welcomed by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).
“Our industry has significantly upped its game on the marketing front in recent years, with targeted programmes from Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland achieving strong cut through in reinvigorating our tourism brand and Ireland’s image as a holiday destination," commented IHF President, Stephen McNally.
"We have, without doubt, become more imaginative in developing our tourism product and in giving holidaymakers new and compelling reasons to visit," he added.
"Today’s new tourism strategy represents the next step in this journey for our industry.”
In the coming weeks, Minister Donohoe will announce the membership of a Tourism Leadership Group to oversee the creation of an initial three-year Tourism Action Plan for 2015-2018.
The Group will draw up the first, medium-term actions to implement the Tourism Policy Statement.