The Gathering has cost the Irish taxpayer €13m ($17.60m) over the past two years, and while no figures exist on how much revenue the event has created, Transport and Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar has said the return will be “a multiple” of its cost.
Speaking at the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin, the minister described the Gathering a success, but warned that Ireland will need to work to keep tourism numbers up for 2014.
“It’s been a concern for us that something like the Gathering had a displacement effect where people who visited Ireland this year may have intended to come next year. So we are building on a number of events, and festivals have already been identified as having potential to run again next year,"said Varadkar.
“So what comes next? In 2014 we’ll be putting Irish scenery back centre stage and developing the Wild Atlantic Way, which is Ireland’s answer to the Garden Route in South Africa.”
The minister said he would fight to retain the 9% reduced Vat rate for tourism and leisure-related goods and services; however, the Irish Examiner reports that Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said the temporarily reduced VAt rate would be too costly to retain, suggesting the rate will return to the its previous 13.5% rate on Oct 15.
“It was only intended to be a temporary measure but like any stimulus, if you remove it too suddenly or too quickly it could do harm,” said Varadkar.
“That has to be taken into account by the Cabinet and Minister Noonan, but bear in mind, budget decisions are never easy.”
The minister said another Gathering has not been ruled out but it could take sometime to organize.
“The Gathering, we always said, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I think it would be wrong to repeat it too soon, but it will maybe happen again in seven or 10 years’ time.”
The minister said the Irish government was on course to meeting its target of attracting an extra 325,000 visitors to Ireland this year.
However, Varadkar said: "The Gathering was never just about tourism revenues or visitor numbers. It was about other things. It was about helping the economy recover.”