Ireland has joined the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign instigated by the World Travel & Tourism Council and World Tourism Organisation.

The move is seen as underscoring the travel and tourism industry’s role as a vital contributor to the global development agenda, according to the two tourism bodies.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny agreed to sign an open letter stressing the significance of travel and tourism to global growth and development for Ireland at last week’s Global Irish Economic Forum.

He said: “Tourism is playing a critical role in Ireland’s economic recovery. Government has recognised its potential, having made it integral to the design of our jobs initiative. There are very encouraging signs, based on recent data which highlighted increased visitor numbers to this Island.

“We in government are determined to ensure that this growth continues by marketing Ireland with an energy and enthusiasm that reflects the resilience and drive of all our citizens, as we continue on our journey of economic recovery.”

WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill said: “Signing the open letter reiterates Ireland’s commitment to tourism, and demonstrates the country’s leadership role in the travel and tourism industry.

“This underlines that the government truly understands the impact on job creation and the positive economic impact that travel and tourism brings to global GDP.”

UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai added: “Tourism today is a key sector in building economic growth and generating much needed employment.

“Ireland joining the WTTC/UNWTO campaign is proof of the importance given to the sector in the country and the commitment of the government in making it a driver for the well-being of its people.”

Travel and tourism is estimated to contribute 6% or €9.1 billion of GDP to the Irish economy and supports 106,000 jobs or 5.9% of total employment. The leaders’ campaign has already won support from the presidents of Mexico, South Africa, China, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Burkina Faso, Indonesia, Kenya and Mozambique.