Tourism Minister Catherine Martin will join Tourism Ireland in Chicago and New York this week where she will undertake a programme of tourism, sporting and cultural engagements to promote the country as a destination for US tourists.

The visit marks the first major in-person series of promotional events undertaken by Tourism Ireland in the US since the outbreak of Covid-19.

The aim of the visit is to position the country well for the 2022 tourist season and to create Ireland as a "stand-out" destination against competitor countries.

The US is the second-largest source market for tourism to the island of Ireland and is the most important market in terms of revenue.

1.7 million American visitors came to the island of Ireland in 2019 and they generated revenues of €1.6 billion.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin said she was very pleased to come to the US this week to lend her support to Tourism Ireland's efforts to get tourism going again from the US into Ireland.

"My schedule includes key engagements with travel trade, airline interests and the media as we thankfully roll out the green carpet for US tourists once more," the Minister said.

Ms Martin also said she has engagements relating to other areas of her portfolio including cultural and sporting interests.

She said she was looking forward to seeing what opportunities the Ryder Cup will present when it returns to Ireland in 2027.

"My message this week will be that we are open for business and looking forward to welcoming Americans back to Ireland. I know that Tourism Ireland has put a huge amount of work into the "Green Button" campaign and I have no doubt that it will resonate with our American friends," she said.

"Now that our economy and society has reopened, it is opportune to show Americans what they have been missing," she added.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said he believes the time is now right to get back out into the international marketplace.

"Our focus is on rebuilding consumer confidence, in order to drive a strong recovery," Mr Gibbons said.

Niall Gibbons, the chief executive of Tourism Ireland

He said that the US is a fiercely competitive market and every destination has experienced the impact of Covid and is now seeking their share of the recovery.

"We will be pulling out all the stops to set the island of Ireland apart from our competitor destinations. From next week, we will roll out our new "Green Button" campaign in the USA, to re-start tourism and encourage Americans to book Ireland as their next holiday destination," he said.

"The €4m campaign will target six key gateways and 11 priority cities, to reach and engage audiences who have the highest potential to travel to the island of Ireland. Our message is that we cannot wait to welcome back American visitors to Ireland, for a fantastic vacation experience," the Tourism Ireland CEO said.