Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar has said while Ireland is no longer an expensive tourism destination, the message is going to take time to get across to visitors from Britain.

He was speaking in London at the British launch of Tourism Ireland's largest ever initiative.

The Gathering 2013 is a series of events due to take place across Ireland next year and 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.

Mr Varadkar said The Gathering was an opportunity to appeal to British tourists to return to Ireland.

The British launch of the initiative was timed to coincide with the London Olympic Games.