Ireland is on course for one of its best years ever in terms of tourism after Fáilte Ireland revealed that more than 1.5m people visited the island in the first three months of this year.
That is a 13% rise on the same period of 2014 and businesses across the country are hopeful they are in for a profitable year.
The rise in tourism is being put down to the improving economies of countries such as America and Britain.
A Fáilte Ireland spokesman said: “The American market is extremely strong – that’s been helped by the fact that the American economy is improving – but also by the fact that the currency is currently working in favour of American visitors. Also the UK market, the British market, is very strong at the moment.
“We’ve recently surveyed the tourism businesses in Ireland and eight of 10 tourism operators are telling us that they reckon their business will be up this year. We could be looking at the best tourism year on record.”
Visitors from North America have increased their spend the most, with a 16% rise on last year.
Tourism is a major part of the Irish economy. Over the past twenty years, both businesses and the government have recognised that there is a desire for people around the world to visit the country of their ancestors in order to feel closer to their roots.
There have been global campaigns to promote Ireland to the world, and the figures show that the world likes what it sees.
The explosion of social media has given Ireland the chance to showcase itself to more people than ever before, and attractions like the Wild Atlantic Way have become a must-see destination for many tourists. There have also been campaigns to promote Ireland’s Ancient East to visitors.
Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Transport and Tourism, said: “In the first quarter of 2015 alone, our overseas visitors spent an estimated €590 million in Ireland, which is an enormous contribution to our economy and an increase of 10.5% on the corresponding period of 2014.”
The increased number of visitors is expected to continue for the remainder of the year, giving Irish businesses a welcome boost as the economy continues to recover from the recession.