Mr. Varadkar was speaking in London last night at the British launch of Tourism Ireland's largest ever initiative. The Gathering 2013 is a series of events due to take place throughout next year designed to attract holidaymakers with Irish ancestral links as well as Irish emigrants.

Britain is Tourism Ireland's most important market but visitor numbers have declined in recent years.

However Leo Varadkar said The Gathering 2013 was an opportunity to appeal to British tourists to return to Ireland. The launch has been timed to coincide with the London Olympic Games.

The Minister said that "apart from a few hiccups" the British authorities had done a great job organising the Games.