From October to December 2012 the number of trips to Ireland from North America increased by 14.2 percent, which is up to 201,300 trips from the same time last year. The Central Statistics Office has just reported the figures.
The period coincides with significant publicity about The Gathering, the call from the Irish government for the Diaspora to come home.
The big increase would seem to indicate that the concept is working and it will fully play out over the next 12 months.
Irish Transport minister Leo Varadkar welcomed the growth in 2012.
“Although there was a slow start in 2012, we saw strong growth in the later part of the year with very strong growth from North America, core European and long-haul markets," he said. "Visitor numbers from Britain fell but it is important to point out that visitors from further away stay longer and spend more.
The total number of global trips to and from Ireland has increased 4.4 percent to 279,400 trips to Ireland when compared to the same time last year according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Although 2013 is still very young, these figures seem to show that The Gathering is having some impact on people’s travels.
The North American figure is especially noticeable as major advertising for The Gathering has taken place here.
Other parts of the world have also seen an increase in travel to the Emerald Isle. Travel from Europe (excluding Britain) increased 8.8 percent to 505,400 trips. Travelers from other areas, including Africa, Australia, and the Middle East increased 15.5 percent to 85,000 trips. This is not surprising since the Irish diaspora reaches over several continents.
The Irish Diaspora is 70 million strong, Many Irish emigrated to Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand among other places throughout the course of Irish history. The Great Hunger in the mid nineteenth century in particular scattered many Irish abroad.
However, residents around the Irish Sea are traveling elsewhere. Britain saw a decrease in the number of visitors jumping across the Irish Sea. British visitors decreased 1.3 percent with 646,400 trips. Between October and December 2012, Irish residents made 1,360,400 trips overseas, showing a 3.8 percent increase.
Irish tourism experienced a 0.5 percent increase from 2011 to 2012 with 6,325,800 trips.