The Gathering seen leading to 5% visitor lift
Tourism Ireland said Ireland was set to attract more American tourists than ever before this year, after new data showed a 7.3 per cent rise in the number of overseas trips to Ireland by non-residents in the first quarter.
The organisation is expecting a five per cent increase in visitor numbers for the full year.
More than one million American visitors are expected, spending about US$1 billion, their numbers boosted by a 27 per cent increase in available airline seats.
Trips increased from 1.167 million in the first quarter of 2012 to 1.252 million trips in the first quarter of 2013, the Central Statistics Office said.
The number of nights spent in Ireland by overseas travellers also increased by seven per cent to 8.4 million.
Total tourism and travel earnings from overseas travellers to Ireland increased by 10.8 per cent to €688 million.
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, noted a 19 per cent rise in visits by holidaymakers in the period.
2013 was set to be a record year not only for American tourists, but also long-haul markets, he said. Holidaymakers from Australia, China and India were up 19 per cent in the first three months.
"The Gathering Ireland has certainly played a major role in helping boost visitor numbers in the first quarter."
However Gibbons conceded that the British market, which is the largest single source of visitors here, was still proving challenging, with a flat economy and weak consumer confidence having a significant impact.
However revenue from British visitors was up five per cent.
Tourism Ireland is rolling out a new plan in 2013 that aims to grow the number of British holidaymakers by 20 per cent, or an additional 200,000 holiday visitors per year by 2016.
**Contact desk: [firstname.lastname@example.org](http://www.businesspost.ie/). Sign up for our [free, daily newsletter](http://newsletter.thepost.ie/1bo4np9c099?a=6&p=35161625&t=21059785).**