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18 Aug 2015

Targeting the Diaspora in Milwaukee

Minister Joe McHugh lends a hand to boost tourism from the United States

The 35th annual Milwaukee Irish Fest – the largest celebration of Irish culture and heritage in the United States – took place in Wisconsin over the weekend. With a huge audience of some 150,000 visitors, the four-day festival was an ideal opportunity for Tourism Ireland to showcase the island of Ireland as a superb holiday destination.

Joe McHugh, Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, was at the festival, where he met with the Tourism Ireland team. A large delegation of tourism enterprises from around the island of Ireland also attended this year’s Milwaukee Irish Fest – all highlighting the many things to see and do here for American holidaymakers.

Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s head of North America, said: “Tourism Ireland’s presence at this year’s Milwaukee Irish Fest provided another excellent platform to showcase the island of Ireland and the diversity of our heritage and culture – and was a good opportunity to invite some of the many people of Irish descent living and working in the US, as well as those with Irish connections or an affinity for Ireland, to come and visit this year.

“The United States is an extremely important market for tourism to the island of Ireland and 2015 looks set to be another record year, with the most recent CSO figures showing growth of +15% in visitors from North America for January to June, almost 85,000 extra visitors compared with the same six-month period in 2014. Tourism Ireland is determined to ensure that growth continues and we have an extensive programme of promotions under way in the US throughout 2015. Ireland now welcomes 10% of all American visitors to Europe – particularly noteworthy given the intense competition from other destinations.”


Joe McHugh, Minster of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, with Marie McKown (left) and Louise Cooney, both Tourism Ireland, at this year’s Milwaukee Irish Fest.

Notes To Editors

  • Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
  • Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 200,000 people.
  • In 2014, we welcomed 8.4 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of €4.1 billion.
  • Tourism Ireland’s international website is, available in ten different language versions for over 30 individual markets around the world. In 2014, attracted about 14.25 million visitors.