Tourism up in Ireland in year of clan ‘gatherings’

DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland’s government says tourism to the Emerald Isle is rising and could reach a record high for American visitors, as many are coming especially for a year of clan-based parties.

Thursday’s figures from the Central Statistics Office found that the number of overseas tourists to Ireland reached 4.75 million in the first eight months of this year, 6.5 percent more than the equivalent period of 2012. Nearly half arrived in the June-August peak time.

American tourists recorded the biggest increases, with 807,000 arriving this year, including 438,000 in the summer months, a nearly 20 percent gain from 2012.

Tourism minister Leo Varadkar credits much of the rise to “The Gathering,” a government-funded program of events that encourages people with Irish last names to attend clan reunions throughout 2013.

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