The newest figures from the Central Statistics Office reveals an increase of 4.4% in passengers from North America to Ireland between November 2012 and January 2013. In comparison to the same time period last year, this is an additional 52,900 trips within a very small time frame.

In response to this dramatic rise, the chief executive of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons, believes that this dramatic increase could hold “the key to tourism and growth.” Gibbons is hopeful that more than one million Americans will travel to Ireland in 2013 as the Gathering initiative begins.

In addition to the increase in American tourists, Gibbons also had good news relating to other geographical areas, The Irish Times reports: Gibbons stated, "Today’s figures also show very good growth in visitor numbers from Ireland's long-haul markets. And indications for these markets for 2013 are also positive; Etihad has announced a 35 per cent increase in capacity on its service from Abu Dhabi to Dublin, which is in addition to the Emirates service from Dubai - both providing excellent connectivity for Ireland with the Middle East and longer-haul markets."

With a breakdown of the Central Statistics Office report, revealed that:

-Trips from Great Britain were up 3,300 to 584,100
-Trips from elsewhere in Europe were up 21,200 to 425,600
-Trips from North America were up 17,300 to 159,200
-Trips from all other areas were up 11,000 to 79,400

Chief executive of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Gina Quin, believes that the reduced Value Added Tax rate of 9% for hospitality industries will greatly help to promote the Irish tourism industry by giving Ireland a competitive edge throughout 2013 for the sale of tourism products in 2014.

Overseas tourism has a "critical role" to play in contributing to Ireland's economic recovery,  said Gibbons, and with The Gathering set to attract a further 325,000 visitors back to Ireland, which will generate approximately 200 million in tourism revenue, then perhaps the forecast for Ireland’s future holds the slightest glimmer of a silver lining.


The arrival gates at Dublin Airport.DAA