Tourist numbers up by 8% between November and January
The number of trips to Ireland increased by just over 8% between November and January, according to latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The biggest increase was from visitors from North America - the number of these trips increased by almost 15%; while the number of trips by residents from Great Britain rose by 8.5%.
The number of trips made by Irish residents overseas during the same period increased by 1.4%, the CSO said..
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar welcomed the news, saying the positive impact of The Gathering is still being felt.
“Last year was the best for tourism since 2008, with visitor numbers growing by 7.2%," Minister Varadkar said.
"This year we want to build on that success and have set challenging targets to grow visitor numbers by another 4% this year and revenue by 8%.
"So I’m very pleased to see 2014 get off to such a strong start."
The minister said Ireland will be extensively promoted around the world at St Patrick’s Day parades and festivals along with the 'greening' of famous landmarks and iconic sites.
Other key events taking place during the year include the ‘Big Start’ of the Giro D’Italia in Ireland, and the Croke Park Classic American Football game.
“Tourism is certainly on the up and this is good news for increased revenues and job creation all around the country, particularly in many rural communities where tourism is the mainstay of the local economy," said Shaun Quinn CEO of Fáilte Ireland.
"This year, we are revamping tourism in Dublin, rolling out the Wild Atlantic Way in the west, developing attractions in the east and south and building on the legacy of The Gathering.
"All of this will help us continue the very positive momentum we’ve experienced in the last year or so.”