It may be dividing opinion in Ireland, but a new survey by Amárach and IrishCentral.com has found that Irish Americans are positive about the Gathering Ireland 2013.
The Gathering is a year long homecoming festival of events aimed at the irish Diaspora. It has been criticized by Irish actor Gabriel Byrne as a scam. However, the vast majority of Irish Americans surveyed appear to disagree.
Over 600 readers of IrishCentral from 48 states were surveyed by Amarach, Ireland’s leading research company.
The key findings were:
* 79% of respondents were aware of the Gathering Ireland 2013 initiative.
* 57% said they intended to holiday in Ireland next year.
* 64% of those who had heard of The Gathering believed that it would make a real contribution to Irish economic recovery.
However, the survey indicates that the cost of travel remains the major issue with Irish Americans. 59% said that the cost of airfares should be reduced, followed by 13% who had a similar view on the cost of accommodation.
The survey was undertaken using an online methodology between December 5th and December 13th by Amárach Research, the leading Irish market research company, in conjunction with www.irishcentral.com, the largest Irish American website in the United States.
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Amárach and IrishCentral have been carrying out regular research on the diaspora for the past two years and this survey included respondents from all but two of the United States - Nebraska and Utah.73% of those surveyed were American born, with 27% born in Ireland.
A further 11% mentioned issues in relation to car rental. When asked to identify their second priority, 29% mentioned the reduction in accommodation and 17% mentioned reduction in airfares. In total, three quarters of respondents identified airfare reduction as a first or second priority, and 42% mentioned the need to reduce the cost of accommodation.
Jim Miley, head of the Gathering initiative, said: "The results of this survey are very encouraging. Irish America is a very important market for the Gathering so it's good to see that they are aware of it and considering travelling to Ireland next year because of it. We hope to welcome many of them to Ireland throughout 2013."
Read More: Tourism Ireland names Co. Kerry’s Portmagee as 'Top Town' for visitors ahead of Gathering 2013 - VIDEO
Commenting on the results, Niall O'Dowd said "The immense goodwill towards Ireland is clearly being tapped into by The Gathering. Like the Notre Dame game this year, The Gathering provides the opportunity for those who were thinking of coming to Ireland to make their plans. It is also clear that the price of fares,especially in high season, remains the single biggest drawback for more tourists. The Irish government clearly need to focus on that."
Michael McLoughlin, CEO of Amárach Research, commented, "We have been working with IrishCentral to understand and research the Irish Diaspora for several years. These poll findings once again bear out our view that his huge ethnic group continues to take a positive view of Ireland. The Irish Diaspora can contribute substantially to our economic recovery here at home, but will only do so if we on this side of the Atlantic understand their motivations and aspirations.”