The one millionth American visitor to Ireland this year – Leonie Higgins – arrived in Dublin this morning. She flew in from JFK with her husband Jim. To mark the milestone occasion, Tourism Ireland and Aer Lingus offered the couple two return tickets just before they left JFK for Dublin – for a future visit to Ireland.
The Irish-American couple, who live in Montgomery, in upstate New York, travel to Ireland regularly to attend the races at Punchestown and to play golf. However, this is their first time to spend Christmas in Ireland.
Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s head of North America, said: “Tourism Ireland is delighted to welcome the 1,000,000th American visitor to Ireland this year. 2013 has been a record year for American visitors to Ireland – even surpassing our previous best year of 2007. This year, Ireland welcomed over one million Americans, spending US$1 billion. Tourism Ireland rolled out our new strategy – Make Ireland Jump Out – throughout 2013, targeting new audiences with strong potential for growth through a very extensive programme of promotions. There is no doubt that The Gathering has played an important part in helping to boost visitor numbers from the US – as we reached out to the almost 40 million Americans of Irish ancestry, as well as many others who feel Irish in spirit.
“And the outlook for 2014 is also positive – with a +8% increase in airline seats from the US for the peak summer months, including a new, year-round flight from San Francisco. In August, we will welcome thousands of American football fans for the Croke Park Classic – when the University of Central Florida takes on Penn State University for their 2014 season opener. It promises to be another great sporting event and follows the enormously successful Notre Dame v Navy Emerald Isle Classic in 2012.”
Jack Foley, Aer Lingus Vice President for North America, said: “We are delighted to welcome 2013’s millionth American visitor to Ireland. As Ireland’s national airline, we take pride in providing more access from North America to Ireland than any other carrier. This milestone is a testament to the hospitality that Aer Lingus and Ireland itself is known for. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors in 2014, through our growing North American network.”