200,000 more tourists
The number of international visitors to Sligo increased by more than 200,000 in the first half of this year.
New figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) indicate that Sligo performed strongly, showing a growth of nine percent from the same period last year.
Martina Kerr Bromley, head of International Sales at Failte Ireland, said that the evidence is there that the Wild Atlantic Way is working.
She said: "It is great for Sligo overall.
"There is a continuous increase this year from continental visitors, particularly from France and Germany.
"The increased access from Knock airport is another factor.
"This is a constant increase year on year with all source markets performing very strong particularly Great Britain, which is showing double digit increase at 14%."
She also said that the upcoming Fleadh will also play a huge role.
The jump of nine percent means that 228,000 extra visitors came to the region between January and May.
There was a rise of 140,000 in British travellers, while there was a jump of 30,000 US visitors.
Martina added: "Visitors from Mainland Europe grew by 37,000 extra arrivals with the German, Spanish and Nordic markets turning in particularly good performances."
She described tourism industry sentiment as 'upbeat'.
"Many businesses are anticipating further growth this year.
"To be a player in the international market place, it isn't sufficient to just sell a bed or a meal or a friendly welcome, there has to be a motivating reason for visitors to be swayed to come to Sligo," she added.
"There are hundreds of other destinations on offer to them.
"Creating experiences is all about showcasing the best we have to offer and it's about ensuring with our industry that those best in class and authentic experiences are in the international shop window and are available for visitors to experience."
She credited the Wild Atlantic Way as a motivating factor in the increase of tourists, adding that the route has been marketed stongly over the last year to tour operators, travel agents and international media.
She also hailed the local tourism industry for their stellar efforts at promoting the area.
"There is an overall real sense of more visitors driving around in their cars and groups travelling the route and staying longer in the area.
"There is a real sense of plenty happening in Sligo this summer so it is important that we all get behind events like The Fleadh and the great many other great festivals, summer schools and sporting events that are happening.
"The re-opening of Lissadell House with its unique cultural offering is a very welcome edition and is a huge asset to the region."