The Emerald Isle has welcomed more than one million visitors from North America over the 12 month period October 2010 through September 2011 the Central Statistics Office has revealed..

The actual number of visitors during the period was 1.014 million which represents an increase of 11.5% and suggests that Ireland has significantly increased its share of U.S. and Canadian travelers to Europe in the current year.

The increase is very welcome news for an Irish economy still suffering greatly from the economic downturn. The Irish government has targeted tourism as a major area for creating jobs and opportunities and it seems to be delivering.

These figures come hot on the heels of figures released recently in Belfast which show an increase of 22%  in visitors from the U.S. and Canada to Northern Ireland for the 6 month January to June 2011 period. The increase in revenue grew by a whopping 57% compared to last year.



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Commenting on the figures, Joe Byrne, Executive Vice-President Tourism Ireland, United States and Canada said: “these results remind us yet again of the strong brand awareness we enjoy in the United States and Canada and of the great vacation experience Ireland offers; indeed, the welcome for American visitors has never been warmer and the value on offer is better than ever. The figures  also reflect the fact that our Irish tourism industry partners “stayed the course” and worked closely with Tourism Ireland during some difficult years for all destinations . A special word of thanks is also due to our great friends and other supporters who have worked tirelessly to spread the good news about Irish Tourism”

Meanwhile in other good news for tourism the bed and breakfast sector is also booming, online bookings through the B&B Ireland website have risen by 43% this year, the Donegal-based body’s convention heard in Dublin this week.

The convention was opened by Minister of State for Tourism and Transport, Michael Ring TD.

“The rise covers advance online bookings for the period January to Mid-November 2011 compared to the same period last year,” says B&B Ireland chief executive Helena Healy.  

“The increase is mainly due to bookings from the US, France and Germany, and reflects our increased in-house IT and e-marketing capability,” she adds.

B&B Ireland represents over 1,000 owners from cities, towns and rural areas across the island of Ireland. Earlier this year, they launched the only B&B iPhone app and have since also launched a new range of specialist "package" breaks to cater for a wide range of interests such as walkers, anglers, golfers, farmstay, and Irish language enthusiasts amongst others.

“In the past year, over 80% of B&B Ireland properties have received star ratings under the new Fáilte Ireland scheme for the sector, and that’s been a real boost to their business,” says Helena. 

“Consumers logging into our website can now find approved 3, 4 and 5 star properties at a glance.”

Failte Ireland Tourism 2011 video: