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The river Shannon - one of the most popular destinations for North American visitors Photo by: John Quinn

Growth in number of North American visitors to Ireland

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The river Shannon - one of the most popular destinations for North American visitors Photo by: John Quinn

There has been an increase of 0.7 percent of visitors to Ireland between April and June this year, second quarter travel figures released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) have shown.

The number of trips to the Emerald Isle increased by 12,300 to 1,817,300, compared to the same time last year, the CSO said.

Overall visitor numbers were up despite a 3.4 per cent fall in trips by British residents to 735,200.

Numbers have increased from other countries in Europe by 3.8 per cent (to 672,400), North American visitors increased by 0.6 per cent (to 305,700), and from other areas by 11.9 per cent (to 104,000).

Although Ireland has had record rainfall in June, it hasn’t stopped the Irish from staying home for vacations, as trips by Irish residents have decreased by 1.5 per cent (to 25,500) in the April to June period.

The number of visitors to Ireland recorded in the first six months of 2012 have remained static compared to the same time last year. The largest increase of numbers and percentages comes from visitors outside Europe and North America (up by 11,100 or 11.9 per cent).

These figures of the first six months reflect the “global economic conditions and in particular the ongoing problems with the Eurozone,” which continue to “present a challenging environment for travel to Ireland,” Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons, said.

There has been an increase in visitors from Germany (5.6 per cent), Italy (15.7 percent), and the Nordic region (almost 6 per cent) and Benelux countries (6.3 per cent) for the first six months of the year.

Positive figures are also coming from further across the ocean from Australia and New Zealand (up 9 per cent) and China and India (up 5.5 per cent). Gibbons said it’s “thanks in part to the improved ease of access” as well as the visa waiver scheme.

British visitors to Ireland was “proving difficult” with a fall of 1 per cent in the first six months of 2012.

But Tourism Ireland’s Escape The Madness campaign is hoping to encourage Londoners to holiday to Ireland during the craziness of the Olympics. The video has been a big hit on YouTube.

As well as that, Minister for Tourism, Leo Varadkar has other opportunities to promote tourism in Ireland despite the recession, as the biggest ever tourism event, The Gathering Ireland, will take place in 2013.

Overall the latest figures showed “that everyone’s efforts are paying off in the face of continuing economic uncertainty in most of our  major overseas markets,” the Minister said.

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