‘Gathering’ hopes to attract 300,000 visitors

A host of celebrities and cultural ambassadors will help attract tourists to Ireland next year as part of “The Gathering”, which it is hoped will attract 300,000 overseas visitors next year.

Ministers travelling overseas will be involved in launching the initiative on St Patrick’s Day. Prestigious landmarks will be turned green including the London Eye and Niagara Falls.

Leo Varadkar, the tourism minister, said: “It’s a call out to the Irish diaspora ... to everyone who has a love of Ireland, to come to Ireland and visit us in 2013 and visit one of the big events that we have planned.”

The aim is to bring 300,000 visitors here next year, which could generate up to €200m in revenue.

The Government plans to build on events such as New Year’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Bloomsday, and the Heineken Cup, the final of which will be played in Dublin next year.

Ministers have approached businesses about organising their own types of events to attract customers.

The Gathering is not only targeted at Irish people living abroad, but those at home who are being encouraged to invite friends and relatives here.

“Huge numbers of people studied in Ireland or got work experience in Ireland or worked in universities.

“I think it’s going to be really big. We have a board now in place to run it, a business plan and also a council of champions of celebrities who will be unveiled over the coming weeks who will advocate abroad,” said Mr Varadkar.

Despite St Patrick’s Day being a key day to attract tourists and showcase Irish monuments, Occupy Dame St protesters are refusing to move for the day.

“I understand they feel very strongly about their politics but I’m sure they don’t want to damage the festival,” said Mr Varadkar.

However, Fianna Fáil accused him of damaging tourism and festivals himself by admitting that the reduced lower VAT rate was unlikely to be kept through to next year.


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