Target of additional 325,000 visitors to Ireland now firmly in sight
Fine Gael Cork South Central Deputy, Jerry Buttimer TD, has today (Friday) said the success of the Gathering, which is now firmly on track to reach its targets of an additional 325,000 visitors to Ireland and €170 million in extra tourism revenue, should also be measured in terms of the positive impact the initiative has on local communities and Ireland’s diaspora.
“The Gathering, which is undoubtedly the biggest tourism initiative ever embarked on in Ireland, has been an unquestionable success. The latest tourism figures from the CSO indicate that between January – August 2013, there were 6.5% or 291,000 more visitors who came to Ireland, when compared with the same time the previous year. Visitor numbers are up from all over the world; North America, mainland Europe, the UK and long-haul destinations, and with 5,000 ‘gatherings’ being organised across the country, there is no shortage of reasons why people are choosing to visit Ireland for the first time, or are coming home to be reunited with loved ones.
“Beyond the economic impact the Gathering is having on Ireland, the social, civic and community benefits cannot be overlooked. The Gathering was designed to promote Ireland and to encourage those with links or who feel an affinity with our land to pay us a visit. Over the last ten months, we have witnessed community groups, corporate bodies, sporting organisations, families and old school and college friends coming together, to celebrate Irish music, culture, heritage and all the great things they know Ireland has to offer.
“The real success of the Gathering can be seen from an Ipsos MRBI Omnibus Survey which was carried out in July 2013. It found that 80% of those involved in hosting a gathering found it to be a source of civic pride, with 73% saying it inspired people to work together to benefit the community. This clearly demonstrates the positive impact the Gathering has had on developing common bonds within local communities, while helping to create new connections and strengthen existing links with overseas friends and relatives.
“The Minister for Tourism, Leo Varadkar; Minister Michael Ring and the Gathering Project Director, Jim Miley, held a special briefing today at the Global Irish Economic Forum to outline the success of the initiative. This seems fitting as it was through this Forum that the idea was first launched two years ago.
“There is still two months to go in the lifetime of the Gathering. During this time we can continue to promote Ireland and seek to raise our profile on the international stage. We should do this in the spirit of encouraging on-going and lasting engagement with our diaspora, which is something that we should continue to do long after 2013.”
Some highlights from the Gathering year so far can be viewed on http://youtu.be/vNEw7p5DMUQ