Record-breaking six months for Irish tourism

More than half a million extra visitors to Irish shores for first half of the year...

Playing host to the likes of Game of Thrones and Star Wars helped Ireland achieve massive tourism growth in the first half of the year, with 507,400 extra visitors descending on the Emerald Isle than the same period in 2015.

Irish tourism's best ever first-half performance saw the island welcome 4.4 million tourists, marking a mammoth 13% increase year-on-year.

Aside from the lure of screen tourism, air access, positive publicity and a global marketing campaigning were cited as contributing to the boom.

Tourism Ireland confirmed that revenue was also up 18% for the first quarter. The majority of tourists came from Britain and North America, while trips from mainland Europe were also on the rise.

Ireland now accounts for one in 10 of all American visitors to Europe.

There are 40,000 additional people employed in the tourism sector compared with five years ago.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said that hotels and other service providers have to continue to do their part to attract people here:

"The industry have to offer excellent value for money. Not be as good as our competitors; we have to be better.

"The good news is that if you look back at the actual statistics, in 1999... 3% of [British visitors] said Ireland was poor value for money. By 2009 that was 43%, and by 2015 that was back to single digits.

"I think we have to sustain and maintain those very positive value for money numbers."

There were 16% more visitors from the UK in the first half, and Tourism Ireland is set to target that market with an extensive programme of promotions this autumn to boost off-peak business and mitigate for a weakened sterling following the Brexit vote.

Currency movements mean that Eurozone trips are now roughly 10% more expensive for British holidaymakers.