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Tourism Ireland’s ‘The Gathering’ initiative is paying off as statistics from the first three months of 2013 indicate a 7.3 percent growth in overseas visitors to Ireland compared to 2012. Photo by: The Gathering

Record number of vacations to Ireland this year as The Gathering numbers add up

\"Tourism

Tourism Ireland’s ‘The Gathering’ initiative is paying off as statistics from the first three months of 2013 indicate a 7.3 percent growth in overseas visitors to Ireland compared to 2012. Photo by: The Gathering

Tourism Ireland’s ‘The Gathering’ initiative is paying off as statistics from the first three months of 2013 indicate a 7.3 percent growth in overseas visitors to Ireland compared to 2012.

With the impressive new data, Tourism Ireland says it is set to attract more Americans than ever before to come visit Ireland during the year of The Gathering.

Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar hailed the figures. “Early indications suggest that The Gathering is working well and is having a real effect on people’s interest in coming to Ireland,” Varadkar said.

“The important thing now is to keep up the good work across the tourism agencies, the industry and in local communities.”

Trips to Ireland 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.

Tourism Ireland is predicting that by the close of 2013, total visitors to Ireland will increase by 5 percent from the previous year.

Data from the first quarter of 2013 also shows that tourists’ spending habits have expanded by 10 percent, jumping to a total €688 million.

Alex Connolly, director of communications with Failte Ireland, told Newstalk that the first quarter of the year is not traditionally peak season, meaning that figures for 2013 bode well.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, told the Sunday Business Post that 2013 was set to be a record year not only for American tourists, but also long-haul markets. Visitors from Australia, China and India were up 19 percent in the first three months.

"The Gathering Ireland has certainly played a major role in helping boost visitor numbers in the first quarter,” said Gibbons.

Despite major criticism including from actor Gabriel Byrne The Gathering appears to be succeeding as a major marketing tool for Irish tourism.

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