Gathering 'boosts visitors by up to 19pc'
IRELAND'S top tourist attractions have hailed The Gathering as a huge success with visitor numbers up by almost 19pc at some sites.
Dublin Zoo, the Cliffs of Moher, Fota Wildlife Park, Newgrange/Bru na Boinne, Blarney Castle, Kilmainham Gaol and the Rock of Cashel have all variously confirmed strong 2013 visitor numbers.
Incredibly, Port of Cork has confirmed a 50pc increase in cruise-liner passengers, up from 88,000 passengers in 2012 to a whopping 135,000 passengers this year.
The recovery in the north American market has particularly boosted The Gathering, with Ireland on course to record the greatest number of US tourists since 2008/2009.
Shannon Airport, the gateway to Ireland for most American holidaymakers, admitted it has been their best season for years with overall numbers on US and Canadian routes up by an astonishing 39pc last month compared to July 2012.
The Clare airport reported a 9pc overall increase in passenger numbers this summer compared to 2012.
Nationally, visitor numbers from north America were up by 15pc in the first six months of the year and experts believe that figure could reach 25pc for the June-September period compared to 2012.
Dublin Zoo is one of those reaping the benefits with visitor numbers from May-July up by 18.2pc on the same period in 2012.
The Office of Public Works, which runs top heritage attractions such as the Rock of Cashel, Kilmainham Gaol and Newgrange/Bru na Boinne, admitted it has been a very strong year.
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said the first six months of the year were extremely encouraging with visitor numbers up by 4.2pc nationally.
"The important thing now will be to keep the momentum going and to build on the success that we have enjoyed," he said.