* To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the value of St Patrick’s day internationally as a means for the promotion of tourism in Ireland; the measures taken overseas to take advantage of this; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Seán Kyne.
The Government recognises the key role that tourism can play in Ireland’s economic recovery. I am glad to report that we saw growth in visitor numbers last year for the first time since 2007 with over 6.5 million overseas visits, representing an increase of 7.8% over 2010.
Our aim is to continue to grow this number this year and into the future. St Patrick’s Day has traditionally marked the start of the tourist season and provides a unique opportunity to put Ireland in the shop window around the world, for Irish tourism and for trade and investment. All Ministers travelling overseas during the period used every available opportunity to highlight the attractions of Ireland as a tourism destination. This year’s St Patrick’s Day festivities were also used as a platform to launch ‘The Gathering Ireland 2013’ in all of our main overseas markets. The profile that St Patrick’s Day provides for Ireland to put itself forward in global markets, whether for tourism, trade or investment, is invaluable. While it is possible to value some aspects, such as the equivalent in advertising value of press coverage, the overall value of St Patrick’s Day is ultimately impossible to calculate.
The Deputy will be aware of some of the high profile initiatives undertaken during the St. Patrick’s day period to highlight Ireland as a tourist destination such as the “greening” of famous landmarks worldwide. As these promotional initiatives are operational matters for Tourism Ireland Limited in the first instance, I have referred the Deputy’s Question to Tourism Ireland for additional reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.