\"Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Emaon Gilmore, Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar and Minister of State Michael Ring are pictured with Brook Butler, 6, from Swords; Daniel Walsh, 5, from Wexford, Evain McCabe, 5, from Cabra and Hannah Stanley, 4 from Portarlington at the launch of The Gathering Photo by: Merrion Street

U.S. visitors to Ireland jump 16 percent as The Gathering tourist initiative takes off

\"Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Emaon Gilmore, Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar and Minister of State Michael Ring are pictured with Brook Butler, 6, from Swords; Daniel Walsh, 5, from Wexford, Evain McCabe, 5, from Cabra and Hannah Stanley, 4 from Portarlington at the launch of The Gathering Photo by: Merrion Street

Figures released by the Central Statistics Offices in Ireland show that between February and April 2013 there was a 56,300 jump in tourist numbers from the U.S ,an overall increase of 16 percent  in visitors from America.

The Gathering
, the Irish government initiative to woo people to come back to Ireland is seen as the decisive factor behind the increase.

The Irish Government has spent $6.4 million on the Gathering to entice Ireland’s Diaspora to come “home” to Ireland. It was their hope that the tourism initiative would boost tourism numbers by 300,000. The Irish government now expects to reach this target before the end of 2013. American visitors will spend one billion dollars say reports.

Since 2010,  figures have jumped by close to 250,000 for the period up to April.

As well as a 16 percent boost from the US there has also been an eight percent rise in the numbers visiting from Europe. However, numbers from Britain are down by two percent.

Michael Ring, Junior Minister for Sport and Tourism, said the reason the Gathering has been a success is that the Irish local communities have rallied behind it.

He said, “It’s working and it’s working very well. They are coming in from all over the world and I  expect the next six months to be even better.

“The reason this is working is because it is community led. Every community in the country came in behind this.

Ring added, “The Gathering is attracting them in but the other thing that is attracting them is that there is a lot more access into the country and it makes the prices cheaper. There is value  to be got in Ireland now.”

Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons said, “Today’s figures suggest a positive start to 2013 as we head into the high season.

“I particularly welcome the increase in visitor numbers from North America which suggests we could be on course to achieve our best year ever from that market  We hope to welcome over one million American visitors, spending about US$1 billion.”

Figures show 207,000 people traveled to Ireland from the United States between February and April. This is up from the same period in 2012.

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