Hopefully, County Donegal and other western counties are set for an upsurge in tourist numbers leading up to 2013.
A global Irish “homecoming” which has been billed as the biggest tourism initiative ever staged in Ireland has been unveiled.
The Gathering will be a year-long event in 2013 and the Government is anticipating it will attract as many as 325,000 extra visitors into Ireland.
Such a spike in visitor numbers would add another €220 million to the Irish economy.
Unveiling the Gathering at the Global Irish Forum in Dublin Castle, the Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar described it as an “invitation to the world to come and join in Ireland’s renewal”.
The initiative has come from Fáilte Ireland, whose chief executive Shaun Quinn has described it as a “compelling vehicle” to tap into the wider Irish diaspora.
Every town and village in Ireland will be asked to participate in the Gathering which will be aimed first of all at the Irish diaspora, then people with an interest in Ireland and people at home.
A renewed interest in Irish roots, particularly following the publication of the 1901 and 1911 censuses, will also be accommodated during the Gathering.
The Gathering will be organised around a series of festivals, both existing and new.
County and city managers will be the key enablers for the programme supported by Fáilte Ireland’s destination project managers and regional teams.
The programme will be formally launched on St Patrick’s Day and a number of special events will take place at that time leveraging high-profile people from Ireland.
There will be a strong emphasis on promoting the event through social media with a view to creating a buzz about the events.
Tourism Ireland will lead the promotion of the Gathering abroad while Fáilte Ireland will promote it at home.
Former Irish diplomat Dr Tim O’Connor will chair the board overseeing the event.
He said: “In order to succeed. the Gathering will be the last word in joined-up thinking. It will require the input of every agency and every parish and its success is ultimately down to us.”
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