Irish tourism will focus on “The Gathering” as it prepares for global Irish homecoming

Ireland in all its glory - a collage of tourists having "craic" in Ireland

The Irish tourism agency, Fáilte Ireland, are optimistic about Ireland’s tourism numbers for 2012 as the country prepares for the “The Gathering”, a global Irish homecoming and Ireland’s biggest tourism project to date which will be held in 2013.

The agency is targeting a two percent to seven percent increase in tourism this year, following last year’s increase of six percent.

Fáilte Ireland’s chief executive, Shaun Quinn, also said that there is not room for Ireland to rest on its laurels when it comes to tourism.

He said, “2012 is extraordinarily difficult to predict and that’s an understatement.”

Quinn said that growth in all key markets is expected, with a two percent to five percent increase in British visitors predicted and increases of up to seven percent in visitors from Europe and the US.

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Last year, the number of tourists coming from Britain increased by almost four percent to 2.8 million and European number increased by eight percent. US arrivals were up by five percent.

The greatest threat to Ireland’s fragile recovery, in terms of tourism, comes from global factors. Quinn said “Any downturn in the global economy – or even significant fears about a downturn – has the potential to undermine the fragile recovery made so far in Irish tourism.”

The chairman of Fáilte Ireland Redmond O’Donoghue said that for the first time in three or four years the Irish tourism industry is optimistic about the future.

Following Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Ireland and President Barack Obama’s homecoming there is a feel-good factor surrounding the country. Their visits also generated $380 million (€300 million) worth of publicity through the 40,000 articles and broadcasts generated by the global events.

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