Visitors to Ireland increased during 1st Q of 2013

Travel to Ireland was up 7.4 percent during the first quarter of 2013 compared to the previous year, the country’s Central Statistics Office has reported. Visitors from North America spiked nearly 17 percent during the period compared to 2012.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said the agency:

…mounted its biggest ever St Patrick’s promotion with over 70 iconic landmarks across the world turning green to mark St Patrick’s Day. This year, The Gathering Ireland 2013 and Derry-Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 present tremendous opportunities for us to shine a spotlight on the island of Ireland around the world.

Officials also said that having Easter fall at the end of March instead of in April helped to swell first quarter visitors. The second and third quarters are typically attract the most visitors to the island.

Tourism is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, contributing almost 4 percent of GNP and providing employment for over 200,000 people, Tourism Ireland said.

Meanwhile, perhaps reflecting the still sluggish national economy, the number of Irish residents traveling outside the country dropped by 2.1 percent compared to the same three-month period in 2012.