The number of overseas visitors to Ireland increased by 8.6% in the first three months of the year, compared with the same period last year.
Figures published today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that 1.17 million people holidayed here between January and March, a rise of 92,800 on the first quarter of 2010.
The figures included a 7.2% rise in the number of visitors from Britain.
“These figures show the first early signs of recovery in Ireland’s vital tourism industry," said Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar.
“There’s also good news in the figures for North America, which are up by almost 12%. This market remains crucial in terms of revenues generated for Ireland."
The minister said he was confident that growth will continue for the rest of the year.
"The last two weeks have seen the highly successful visits of Queen Elizabeth II and US President Barack Obama."
"I don’t think anything could compare with the positive images of Ireland broadcast around the world in recent days."
The growth in visitor numbers was also welcomed by Tourism Ireland.
"The figures issued today are well ahead of expectations, showing a strong turn-around and a welcome return to growth from Great Britain, our largest and most important market, as well as from North America, France, Germany, Spain, the Nordic Region and from Australia and developing markets," said CEO Niall Gibbons.
“After a number of difficult years for tourism, I believe the industry is now poised for a return to growth."
However the figures reveal that Irish people took fewer overseas trips, with 1.27 million travelling abroad, a decline of 11.7%.