THE IRISH TOURISM industry has said this year was the best for tourism in Ireland since the recession began.
In its review of the year, the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation said almost 7 million people visited Ireland in 2013, bringing more than €4 billion into the economy.
The number of tourists visiting from North America jumped by 13 per cent this year to more than one million, while the numbers from Britain also increased by 4 per cent – the first time in more than 5 years that the numbers grew – to 2.9 million. There were 2.5 million visitors from mainland Europe, an increase of 7 per cent on last year.
Ireland did a hard-sell on tourism this year with a concerted effort by tourism bodies to promote the country abroad coupled with The Gathering, which encouraged people with Irish roots to visit the country. The Gathering was praised by the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation for attracting large numbers of visitors throughout the year.
The head of the ITIC said the industry was bullish about more tourists coming to visit in 2014.
“2013 was a year of solid achievement for the tourism industry,” said chairman Paul Carty. “Not only did we see a very welcome increase in tourism earnings and numbers, but significant progress was made in setting up conditions for the continued expansion of the sector”.
Carty suggested that Ireland should reconsider setting a target of 10 million visitors in one year – a figure that was proposed in 2003 to be reached by 2013, but which was abandoned during the recession.
The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation said that the upturn in tourism figures created 15,000 jobs in the sector over the past 24 months.