The number of overseas visitors to Ireland reached a record 10.6 million last year, an increase of 6.9% over 2017.
British residents accounted for a third of the total despite uncertainty over Brexit.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office reveal that there were 10,616,300 trips made to Ireland during 2018.
Visitors from Britain accounted for 3.76 million trips, a marginal rise of 0.8%) on 2017 while trips by residents of European countries other than Great Britain increased by 9.5% to 3,812,700.
Trips by residents of the United States and Canada to Ireland increased by 13.4% to 2,383,800 while trips to Ireland from Other Areas rose by 6.7% to 660,700.
“Last year we saw another year of growth for Irish tourism which further underlined the value of the sector to the economy,” Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross said.
“I am very encouraged that the growth we saw last year came from a number of markets. North America performed well as did Europe, with key markets such as Germany and Italy growing strongly,” he said.
Record arrivals from Mainland Europe in 2018 - up 9.5% - with particularly strong growth in arrivals from Germany and Italy 🇩🇪🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/bQP0OOzlx1— Tourism Ireland (@TourismIreland) January 28, 2019
“In addition, long-haul and developing markets also delivered good returns. Whilst the British market was somewhat flat, this is not surprising given the uncertainty attaching to Brexit,” Mr Ross said.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures confirm that 2018 was another record year for overseas tourism to Ireland, with more than 10.6 million overseas arrivals – an increase of +6.9%, or 684,200 additional overseas arrivals, when compared with 2017.
“We’ve seen excellent results from North America in 2018 – with almost 2.4 million visitors, up 3.4% on 2017."
2018 saw record arrivals from Australia and our emerging tourism markets like China - up 6.7% on 2017 😀 pic.twitter.com/p8EXqbWvyr— Tourism Ireland (@TourismIreland) January 28, 2019
He noted that 10% of all American visitors to Europe come to Ireland: "This is particularly noteworthy given the intense competition from other destinations.
"We have also seen record numbers arriving here from Australia and developing markets (+6.7%); and from mainland Europe (+9.5%), with important markets like Germany and Italy recording really good growth."
Mr Gibbons said that increases in direct air access, plus market diversification strategy, have been key factors in the growth.
Tourism Ireland has prioritised North America and Mainland Europe, as markets which offer a strong return on investment, in terms of holiday visitors and expenditure: “While we welcome the fact that arrivals from Britain are up almost 1%, the continued uncertainty around Brexit, and its impact on outbound travel from Britain, remains a real concern."
“Our focus now is on the year ahead. Tourism Ireland’s campaigns are in full swing, to build on the success of 2018.
"Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue in 2019 to €6.5 billion, for the island of Ireland.”
The CSO figures show that more than 8.27 million Irish residents made overseas trips in 2018, up 4.2% year-on-year.