With an estimated 70 million around the world who claim Irish ancestry, tourism was an obvious market for the government to enrich the struggling economy. The government established 2013 as a year to explore all that Ireland has to offer calling it “The Gathering” and have already seen positive results.
The number of visitors between January and March rose close to 8 percent from last year with the total number being 1.25 million people, according to the Irish Independent. That’s the highest number since 2009 and visitors from the United States in particular increased more than 16 percent with 168,800 people venturing to Ireland in the first quarter.
Reuters.com reports that Chief executive of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, Eamon McKeon, said, "There's clear evidence that The Gathering has been very effective in North America, in the U.S. in particular."
North America was the main target of “The Gathering” due to the fact that about half of the 70 million people living abroad with Irish ancestry live in the US or Canada.
McKeon went on enthuse that the Gathering, "has absolutely hit the spot and differentiates us from other European destinations. The Gathering was definitely a conduit that helped grow air capacity and is helping consumers make the decision: 'Yeah, let's do Ireland'."
Ireland also saw a 31 percent increase in visitor from Nordic countries and a 27 percent increase in visitors from France.