Ireland is on the verge of setting a new record in visits from North America that the country’s tourism chief attributes to this year’s promotion called The Gathering.

Overall visits from Canada and the U.S. have grown by 18.6 percent through July to 671,600, compared to a 6 percent increase in total international visits, according to the country’s Central Statistics Office.

Niall Gibbons, the CEO of Tourism Ireland, is quoted in the Irish Central as saying he expects 1 million U.S. visits in 2013, which would break the 2007 record of 995,000 U.S. visits, and push revenue from the U.S. market to more than $1 billion. During the peak travel months of May through July, U.S. visits to Ireland were up 20.5 percent.

Failte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn credited The Gathering for the rebound in travel to Ireland from North America and Europe. “The increase in American visitors is particularly welcome as they stay longer and spend more – which is good for the tourism sector, local businesses and the national economy,” he said. Around half of the estimated 70 million people with Irish heritage living abroad are in the United States and Canada, meaning they are the main targets of The Gathering promotion.

Courtesy of Travel Pulse.