The head of Ireland's tourism agency says his country and New Zealand have a lot to learn from each other.

Ireland is often cited by New Zealand tourism leaders as an example of a country with a smaller land area coping with a visitor influx greater than here.

Chief executive of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons said he had met his counterparts in this country last week.

"I found the issues were so similar to back home. We've both seen a large increase in the number of tourists that are coming."


Ireland, with a population of about 6.5 million, attracts about 10.5 million visitors a year. New Zealand, with a population of 4.5 million and a land area more than three times larger, has about 3.6 million visitors.

Gibbons said his country could handle more tourists but like New Zealand aimed to attract higher-spending visitors. Like New Zealand there were pinchpoints in some areas at peak times of the year but these were isolated.

Tourism in Ireland is responsible for more than 4 per cent of GDP and employs more than 280,000 people.

Irish tourism was rocked by the global financial crisis from 2008. It responded by dropping VAT on products bought by tourists from 13 per cent to 9 per cent and dropping the €10 ($17) passenger charge at airports.

"Ireland has reinvented itself from a tourism perspective. We've got 60 per cent more tourists than we did in 2010," Gibbons said.

The country had learned from New Zealand's promotion of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Ireland promotes itself as the location for scenes from Game of Thrones and Star Wars, with more than 30 per cent of visitors influenced by film tourism.

About 32,000 Kiwis go to Ireland each year and Gibbons expected this number to rise if the country was successful in its bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.