Labour TD for Cork South-West, Michael McCarthy, has warmly welcomed fresh figures which show strong growth in visitor numbers from Europe, North America and other long-haul routes. “This clearly shows that the Government’s tourism strategy is working, and working well. The latest CSO report has shown a 4% jump in visitor numbers to Ireland between September and November in 2012. This is an encouraging start to 2013, the year of ‘The Gathering’, and I am fully confident that this upward trajectory will continue over the next 12 months. “The report shows surges in numbers from key markets such as Germany, Spain and Scandanavia, while visitors from North America increased by 20%, largely due to the Notre Dame sporting event in Aviva Stadium. It bodes well for the year ahead and is a good indicator of rising interest in Ireland as a tourism destination. “When this Government took office nearly two years ago, it pledged to make tourism a key driver of economic activity here and to support the competitiveness of the sector. A number of targeted measures have reduced costs for tourists and for tourism businesses, including a cut in VAT on certain tourism services and the Visa Waiver Programme. Positive figures like those released by the CSO yesterday are small but significant gains which we can and should draw pride from.”

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