The news that tourism to Ireland from North America is up 17% in the second quarter this year is very welcome.

Americans spend more and stay longer than other nationalities, and anyone in Ireland can tell you they are the lynchpin of the modern tourist industry.

Even greater numbers would go to Ireland if there were more direct air links.
The fact that there are no direct flights from the West Coast remains a deep problem for Irish tourist authorities, and there are attempts underway to address it.

The Irish Technology Leadership Group in Silicon Valley has made a major effort in that regard, and they will hopefully be successful despite a recent setback when Aer Lingus decided against re-opening its route from San Francisco.

Texas and the southern states are another area that badly need more direct flights as Atlanta remains the only hub.

Overall, however, tourism authorities will be glad to pencil in the new numbers, and will be hopeful that recent gyrations in the stock market do not presage a further downturn.

Nothing can help Ireland more than increased tourism, as it feeds money into the grassroots and rural areas.

Likewise, any further slowdown in tourism will hurt deeply in an industry where the green shoots of recovery are definitely starting to show.

At the heart of that is a less expensive and more realistic product, though cheaper airfares still remain a definite goal.