State visits of Barack Obama and the Queen boost Ireland's global profile

Country gains good news coverage and stands to benefit economically from a renewed interest in tourism

The Irish public have been giving themselves a pat on the back every day for the past eight days, quietly thrilled that, for the first time in six months, the country has once again been headline news around the world but this time for all the right reasons. A royal and presidential antidote to months of IMF-EU misery.

Tourism analysts in Ireland found that the Queen's landmark visit generated almost 12,000 newspaper articles and almost 1,400 TV news clips across the globe last week – the majority of those in the UK.

By last night, that will have been eclipsed with coverage in the US where networks and newspapers were salivating over the images of their president arriving in a little Irish village, tracing his distant Irish roots.

For drinks giant, Diageo, publicity doesn't get better than this. Only last week the Queen and Prince Philip were snapped eyeing a pint (but not sipping) in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

"It's delicious," declared Obama as he took a second sip from his freshly poured pint in Ollie Hayes pub in Moneygall. "It tastes so much better than it does in the states," he said.

"It's been an incredible week," said Liam Reid of Diageo. "Guinness is part of our heritage and it's wonderful to see that acknowledged by so many prominent visitors to our country."

And, for tourism chiefs, the Obama visit coming hot on the heels of the hugely successful Queen's visit, is a dream come true. Tourism is worth €6bn (£5.2bn) a year and the UK and US are Ireland's two biggest markets – worth €1bn and €560m respectively – and both have taken a bad fall in the recession.

"The economic benefits will be huge, but it is the images we saw, especially last week at the end of the Queen's visit when she did the walkabout in Cork, that are important. Our research shows people come here for the warmth and the friendliness far more than for tourist attractions," said Sean Quinn, chief executive officer of Failte Ireland.

The deputy prime minister, Eamon Gilmore, said: "The stories coming back from the embassies gave a sense that here is a country that is doing very well, that is coping with its difficulties. It is a good week for Ireland internationally.

Or as former Washington correspondent Mark Little and founder of said, it was a little dose of "prozac" for a nation, deeply depressed on a drip feed of horrendous economic news.


Lisa O'Carroll in Dublin

The GuardianTramp

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