Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Gathering Delivers

The Gathering is delivering. Ireland's 'greatest ever tourism initiative' is aimed at mobilising the Irish diaspora and others to return to or visit Ireland during 2013, to be part of a series of local gatherings, events and festivals to celebrate Irish culture, history and genealogy.

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO):
  • Tourism numbers are up 8.1% to 1.77m between March and May this year
  • There was an 12.8pc increase in North American tourists over the first five months of the year, with 369,100 visits
  • One million American visitors are expected to visit Ireland in 2013, spending around $1bn (€765,000).
  • The number of tourists coming to Ireland from the United Kingdom has increased by 5.6% to 726,300 – despite the overall slump in the general British travel market.
  • Visits from mainland Europe were up 8.5pc for January to May and by 9.6pc between March and May.
  • The highest jump has been witnessed in visitors from France at 26.3pc, the Benelux countries at 11pc, Germany at 6.1pc and the Nordic countries at 6pc.
  • Even recession-mired Spain has seen visitors here rise by 5.4pc over the same three-month period.
  • The Australian and New Zealand market also grew by an impressive 12.1pc from March to May.
Of course while Dublin, Cork, Galway and Killarney cash in, Belfast, Derry and Newry have seen little or no benefit from the initiative. They could have, were it not for DUP Tourism Minister Arlene Foster refusing to cooperate with the Irish Government in order to promote The Gathering as an All Ireland project and promote Ireland abroad. Instead she insisted on marketing the North as "part of the United Kingdom" distinct from the rest of Ireland.

Most overseas tourists, especially those from North America, come to visit the island as a whole. People come to Ireland for the céad míle fáilte, the scenery, the traditional music, the Irish language, the Guinness and all that is bound up in the Celtic Irish identity promoted abroad. It's cool, it's appealing, it's ancient and it works.

Blinded by a DUP Minister's small-minded parochial attitude and antipathy towards all Ireland co-operation, the North has missed out on the economic benefits from a great tourist initiative.

Tourist numbers to Ireland for the fist six months of the year show Overseas visitors increase 5.4%.
Below is a great video made by a Canadian couple of their trip around Ireland - A Fortnight Plus Half - An Ireland Adventure.


  1. Well said Enda,
    And thus the guff about "our time our place" is laid to rest. It will be interesting to see the comparative figures for 2013

  2. Especially as Foster is from Fermanagh, which is inevitably visited in conjunction with Donegal or Sligo.

  3. The Spanish figure quoted doesn't surprise me one iota having lived in Dublin for a year. Last time I checked there was a very specific Spanish language tour bus 'Irlanda en Espanol' which had a black silhouette bull on the side on a green background, that and the Spanish lilt you would hear around St Patrick's Cathedral during the day and in Fallon's on Dean Street (excellent bar btw folks) at night.

  4. I was just thinking the same myself Footballclichés. The amount of Spanish people in buses and around the city centre in Dublin is very noticeable. But it's not just Spanish people. The city is bustling with tourists.

  5. Agreed Enda, the place is teeming as they would say. Aside from Spaniards the other big noticeable European populations for me are Italians (close on no.1 IMHO) closely followed by the French.

    Shameful plug time. Cleanish has a new post up if your readers would care to view and it will be the first of a series with all opinions (so long as no trolling) welcome.