Trips to Ireland increased by 19% at the end of last year, official figures released today have revealed.
The increase came in the three-month period between November of last year and January of this year, according to new figures from the CSO.
That means 22,800 more people came here, when compared to the same period 12 months earlier.
British visits were up by 4.7% to 580,800, while trips by residents of European Countries other than Great Britain increased by 3% to 404,400.
However, visits by North Americans were down 5.4% to 141,900, while visitors from other parts of the world decreased by 9.4%.
Visitor numbers from other parts of the world are also on the decline, decreasing by 9.4%.
The total number of overseas trips made by Irish residents decreased by 1.6% to 1,169,100.
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar described the figures as a welcome start to the year.
“Clearly the picture was mixed, with some markets performing better than others,” he said.
“A range of factors such as economic confidence, or uncertainty, in many of our source markets is evident in these figures with visits up 16.3% from Germany and down 5.1% from Italy.
“However, it is particularly important that we sustain growth in visits from Great Britain, our largest market for inbound tourism.”
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said anecdotal feedback from tour operators and travel contacts overseas was “cautiously optimistic” about improvements in the number of visitors from further afield later in the year.
“Right now, we are preparing to roll out our largest ever St Patrick’s Day programme around the world – which will span Great Britain, mainland Europe, North America, Australia, as well as developing markets such as China, India and South Africa,” he said.
“Our aim is to bring a smile to the world and to convey the message that Ireland continues to offer a warm welcome, fun and spontaneity, alongside fantastic scenery and cultural activities.”