Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has today (Thursday) called on communities across Co. Meath to start getting ready for The Gathering, the nationwide tourism initiative that is aiming to attract 325,000 extra visitors to Ireland next year.
“We’ve just three months left in the year, so now is the time for communities and organisations across Co. Meath to get in gear for The Gathering. It will be the biggest tourism event ever planned for Ireland and it will be a great opportunity for us to showcase our communities and attract as many visitors as possible.
“The Minister for Tranport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD, has been busy in recent months promoting The Gathering overseas. Just last week, Minister Varadkar was on a whistle-stop trip of four cities in the United States to drum up interest in all of the events that will be taking place here next year.
“The US and Canada are two of Ireland’s most important tourism markets, and were worth a combined €696 million to the Irish economy in 2011. There were more than a million trips to Ireland from the US and Canada last year. I believe that through The Gathering we can boost this number even further, and there’s every reason for Meath to benefit.
“The importance of the British market should not be underestimated. The UK is the single most important market for tourism here. Last year, 45% of all visitors to Ireland were from Britain. A major focus of The Gathering is to encourage our diaspora to come back home. So let’s reach out to our families and friends in the UK and further afield and encourage them to take a trip back home.
“There will be a large number of festivals running through next year. But The Gathering isn’t just about big events; it’s also about communities coming together and holding their own gigs. Whether it’s through your local sports club or community organisation, I’m encouraging people in towns and villages across Co. Meath to get involved.
“Tourism has a hugely positive impact on our economy. The tourism sector supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. An increase in visitors will help small local cafes and family run hotels, as well as major visitor attractions. In other words, we all stand to benefit from making The Gathering a major success.”