Ireland's Tourism Industry

Ireland is a country where the southern Republic of Ireland is the officially "Irish" nation, and the northern Ireland region is part of the United Kingdom. Most tourists visit both areas when touring Ireland, and others visit locations of pre-eminence in the south and the north of the country. There are no border controls and tourists can move freely throughout Ireland.

Tourism is a Big Part of Ireland's Economy

Tourism is one of the emerald isle's biggest industries, with 45% of visitors coming from the United Kingdom. Recently, economic recession has directly affected Ireland's tourism receipts, with a 4% drop in UK visitors in 2011, causing a dip in overall tourism levels. Some respite from tourists hailing from Europe and North America in 2012 created an extra 100,000 visitors, with Ireland remaining positive about the future outlook.

Tourism Visitors Outnumber the Irish Population

Over 6.5 million people visit Ireland annually, or 1.5 times the Irish population. Tourism receipts top 5 billion Euros each year, with related economic activity accounting for almost 4% of GNP. Visitors hail from the UK, France, Germany and the United States, and many are interested in their Irish origins.

The famous Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland County Antrim, is a World Heritage Site which attracted 100,000 visitors in 2012/2013. Other breathtakingly beautiful sites to visit include the dramatic Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, attracting 1 million visitors per year, and the Ring of Kerry in the southern Republic of Ireland gaining 600,000 visitors annually.

Ireland's Big Event for 2013 - The Gathering

The reason for optimism in Ireland's tourism figures is an expected increase in North American visitors in 2013. The nation of Ireland has joined forces to host an event called The Gathering. Every Irish county is throwing a clan party, where anyone with Irish connections, considering themselves part of an "Irish Diaspora", has been invited to return home and experience their roots.

The Gathering Delivers Strong Tourism Growth in Ireland for 2013

The initiative seems to have been a massive success, with the highest tourism numbers since 2009 recorded in three months to May 2013. The recorded 8.1% increase equates to 1.7 million extra visitors from March to May 2013, with North American visitors up 12.6% in the same time period, alongside a huge contingent from France (up 9.6%).

For a marketing initiative, aimed at getting the whole country involved in bringing back those who claim Irish ancestry, The Gathering concept is a roaring success. For the first time in five years, visitors from Britain also increased by 5% in the measured period for 2013.

Ireland's tourism industry planners will be pleased, or vexed, to observe Scotland planning a similar event called "Homecoming" in 2014.

Eco Tourism Next for Ireland's Tourism Industry

Developing Ireland's tourism recovery beyond 2013, the first Gastronomy Symposium in Galway, Ireland, saw delegates and guest speakers discuss the feedback from visitors to The Gathering. They've identified a growing desire for eco-tourism experiences.

Information gained from The Gathering visitor feedback suggests Irish food tourism visitors want to see local fare wherever they travel. New industries and approaches can be as simple as putting Irish Stew on the menu, or combining restaurant tastings with visits to farms where animals are free-ranging. Irish entrepreneurs are sure to embrace new tourism industries, and have realised there is work to do in order to win back repeat visitors.

Ireland's Tourism Industry Shows Strong Recovery Signs

With the impact of The Gathering, increased tourism visitors to Dublin, and promising increases across all indices, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation is confident that 2013 will be the year tourism figures reach the equivalent or more of 2008/2009 figures.

With the country heavily reliant on tourism and related industries, the innovations begun from events connected to The Gathering will be closely monitored by the ITIC. Increased revenues from 2013's success will hopefully boost Ireland's economy, and help make Ireland's tourism industry buoyant, once again.