More than one million people from the U.S. and Canada visited the island of Ireland in 2012, a three percent increase on the previous year according to figures recently released from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office. 

While the exact number, 1.017million, is a wonderful achievement and a great endorsement of the unique experience which Ireland offers, it is the proportion of these folks who were vacationers/holidaymakers which is especially pleasing to Tourism Ireland.

The number of vacationers, those influenced by the promotional campaigns of Tourism Ireland and its partners, increased by a very impressive seven percent to 622,000.

Accordingly, revenue from the U.S. and Canada increased by a whopping 9.3 percent to 742 million.

Executive Vice President of Tourism Ireland, US and Canada, Joe Byrne said, “The United States continues to be one of the strongest international markets for tourism to the island of Ireland and we are delighted with the figures for 2012. The extremely encouraging reports for 2013 so far, suggest that we could be in for another bumper year.”

“In 2013, Ireland has the added attraction of The Gathering, a year-long series of festivals and events celebrating the unique nature of what it means to be Irish, and this has given us an unprecedented opportunity to shine a spotlight on Ireland in the U.S.”  

The figures follow the recent release of Tourism Ireland’s North American review and three-year plan entitled “Make Ireland Jump Out” which sets an ambitious target of an increase in American visitors between 2013 and 2015 of 20 percent.

A critical factor which will underpin this growth is the significant increase in the number of airline seats between the U.S. and Ireland. Summer 2013 will see almost 25% more airline capacity on routes to Dublin, Shannon and Belfast than in 2012 – all five carriers operating direct services have increased capacity or added new routes. 

Irish Hospice Foundation appeals to the public for photos for The Gathering book Photos from The Gathering events to feature in memento book “Reflections of Ireland” JANE WALSH The Irish Hospice FoDAA