400,000 extra visitors flock to explore Ireland
Ireland is now a more popular tourist destination than ever before, with the majority of visitors coming to Dublin for some or all of their stay.
In the first half of the year the country hosted 3.9 million visitors between January and June, an additional 407,100 compared with this time last year and an increase of over 11.7pc, according to the latest CSO figures.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said the main reason we were seeing unprecedented numbers is because of a lowering of the Vat rate for tourism-related sectors to 9pc, a common visa program between the UK and Ireland, and the reduction of the air travel tax to zero.
Visitors are mainly coming from Britain, North America and mainland Europe, Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohoe confirmed.
"The Government's tourism policy statement includes targets to be achieved by 2025 of €5bn in overseas tourism revenue, an extra 50,000 jobs in the tourism sector and 10 million overseas visits to Ireland, compared to 7.6 million in 2014," he said.
Mr Gibbons said that both government and businesses involved in tourism needs to be aware of previous problems that may have contributed to a dip in tourism.
"We must be mindful of the mistakes that were made in the past and ensure that they are not repeated," he said.
"Our value-for-money rating has improved dramatically in recent years. In 2009, 41pc of tourists reported poor value for money when coming here. This figure has fallen to 9pc in 2014.
Mr Gibbons said that there are new air routes planned for the country which will see "unprecedented levels of access".
Minister Donohoe dismissed claims that the increased levels of tourists to the capital could drive hotel room prices up, effectively making more tourists reporting poor value for money yet again.
Dublin has a capacity of 42,000 hotel rooms, but this number may not be able to facilitate a growing number of tourists coming here in years to come.
"We must work with industry to insure that the increase in demand will not make hotel prices increase too much," the minister said.
Mr Gibbons added: "We are determined to ensure that tourism growth continues. We are undertaking an extensive programme of promotions around the world throughout 2015, which includes a focus on the Wild Atlantic Way as well as on events like Yeats2015 and ID2015.
"We are also showcasing the new Dublin Discovery Trails.
"We will shortly launch an extensive global autumn campaign, to boost business in the off-peak season and carry the growth momentum into 2016," he said.