Ireland could be heading for its best ever year of tourism with massive increases in the number of visitors for the first six months of the year.
Figures released recently by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) have revealed a 11 per cent increase in the number of overseas visitors to the country between January and June when compared to the same time frame in 2014.
The record 3,876,200 visits to the country has been a result of a big growth in the number of American visitors to Ireland which was up by 14.7% to 659,200 visitors.
These numbers are still overshadowed by tourists from Great Britain, however, who hold the biggest share of the market with 1,612,000 visits registered until the end of June. The number of British tourists saw an increase of 9.4% from 2014.
The number of American tourists was also beaten by those from mainland Europe who clocked in 1,376,900 visits so far in 2015, an increase of 13 per cent.
Minister of State in the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, Michael Ring, has commended the work of all those who work in tourism in Ireland and applauded the increase in visitors.
“These latest figures show that the efforts of everybody, from the highest levels of Government to the smallest B&B, are paying off,” he said.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe, has also welcomed the increase saying that it is “excellent news for everybody involved in Irish tourism and reflects the hard work carried out by the government and all those involved in the tourism industry.”
The tourism industry had already seen a 13 per cent increase for the first three months of the year with a very strong American and UK market.
At the end of 2014, Tourism Ireland correctly predicted that 2015 was to be a good year for Irish tourism. The organization expected to welcome 7.74 million visitors to the country over 12 months, breaking the record of 7.3 million set in 2007.
The success in 2015 keeps the tourist industry on track to reach 10 million annual visitors by 2025, a figure that is twice the population of Ireland and one that could bring $6 million to the Irish economy, sustaining around 250,000 jobs.
Speaking at the launch of the 2015 marketing campaign last year, Minister Donohoe stated, "The international tourism marketplace is a competitive one, so it is crucial that we show no signs of complacency where the increase in our overseas visitor numbers is concerned.
"We must continue to identify the most effective ways to attract tourists to Ireland, so that we can support the jobs we have in the sector and help create new ones in the future."