At this weekend’s Global Irish Economic Forum, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar TD presented proposals for the biggest tourism initiative ever staged in Ireland. ‘The Gathering’ will be a year-long event in 2013 where people at home and abroad can play a part in the country’s recovery, potentially bringing 325,000 extra visitors and providing a major economic stimulus.
“This is an invitation to the world to come and join in Ireland’s renewal,” he said. “The Gathering will be a year-long programme of events, festivals and fun designed to bring record numbers of visitors. It’s an opportunity for people at home and abroad to play a part in Ireland’s renewal, and help to rebrand Ireland on the world stage.
“It will extend the Government’s commitment to revitalise the tourism industry, create jobs and promote economic recovery. We hope the initiative will bring 325,000 extra visitors to Ireland in 2013, boosting the tourism industry, creating jobs and injecting millions of euro into the economy.
“The Gathering will grow out of existing festivals, and foster many more spin-off events. Everyone has a chance to get involved, whether at local level or among members of Ireland’s diaspora. Tourism and the tourism experience have always been a key strength of Ireland and I am excited about the potential of this project to harness that and take it to a new level.
“People often ask me what they can do to help get Ireland out of recession and back to prosperity. Irish people living and working abroad ask the same thing. The Gathering is the answer to this question. It’s an opportunity for communities, local authorities, sporting associations, county associations, individuals, families and businesses to do something positive to lift national morale and help the economy. I would like this event to kick-start a broad, inclusive discussion, at home and abroad, about how we can bring this exciting plan to life.”
The Gathering will focus on a series of flagship festivals throughout the year, along with special interest spin-off events, and a community-led programme. It will showcase Irish arts, sports, food, learning, genealogy and family heritage, science and hospitality.