Labour MEP for Ireland South Phil Prendergast has described new figures showing growth in tourism and related jobs as very encouraging.
The Central Statistic Office (CSO) quarterly figures for December 2011 – February 2012 show tourism growth of 2.7 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Ms Prendergast said: “These figures are very encouraging. Nearly 1.15 million people visited Ireland over the three-month period around Christmas and 10,000 more people are working in tourism compared to last year.
“This shows the Government Jobs Initiative launched last May is working. This brought in a 4.5 per cent VAT cut for tourism services and halved employers’ PRSI for those on lower wage rates, many of whom are in the hospitality sector.
“We’ve had the first year of tourism growth since 2007 with over 6.5 million people coming to our shores - an increase of 7.8% on 2010.
“This is crucially important to the Munster economy. We’ve been creating jobs in the medical and computer sector, agriculture is growing strongly and now tourism – which is very much our bread and butter – is on the rise too.
“The announcement of new routes at Waterford Airport serving London, Manchester and Birmingham is another harbinger of better times ahead.
“Since the Government took office, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has been leading the work to restore Ireland’s reputation abroad. The latest tourism figures are a further sign that it’s paying off.”