One in every 10 US tourists travelling to Europe is now visiting Ireland — as the record number of visitors coming here shows no signs of slowing.

According to figures from the Central Statistics Office, between November of last year and January 2017, the total number of visitors to Ireland increased by 7.2% to just over 1.8m compared to the same period 12 months earlier.

The biggest increase in visitors was from North America, which saw a 30.8% rise to 314,500.

Trips to Ireland by British tourists increased by 3.3% to 841,700 while trips by residents of European countries other than Great Britain (Other Europe) increased by 2.3% to 588,500. Trips to Ireland from Other Areas increased by 11.4% to 126,400.

Irish people are also continuing to travel more, with trips abroad jumping by 12.4% to 1,551,400 between November 2016 and January of this year.

The total number of trips (Irish residents’ trips overseas plus trips to Ireland) in this period increased by 9.5% to 3,422,500 when compared with the same period 12 months earlier.

CSO figures published last month showed an increase of 10.9% in overseas visits to Ireland for 2016 compared to 2015. A record-breaking 9.5m tourists visited Ireland over the 12-month period.

Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said more than 126,000 extra tourists visited here between last November and January, while the numbers from the US were particularly positive.

“I am delighted to report that growth was recorded from all of our markets around the world — with exceptional results from North America. Ireland now welcomes 10% of all American visitors to Europe — particularly noteworthy given the intense competition from other destinations.

“We have also seen continued growth from Britain, mainland Europe, and our long-haul markets. And it is particularly encouraging that we’ve seen an 8.3% growth in overseas visitors in the month of January alone,” he said.

Mr Gibbons said the focus was now firmly on the year ahead with St Patrick’s Day traditionally being seen as the start of the season.

“Our aim is to grow overseas tourism revenue in 2017 by 4.5%, to €5.7bn for the island of Ireland. Our promotions will receive a tremendous boost next month, with our Global Greening initiative for St Patrick’s Day set to be even bigger and better than ever before. St Patrick’s Day traditionally marks the real start of the tourism season for us and we will be taking every opportunity to capitalise on Ireland’s heightened profile,” he said.

Tourism Minister Shane Ross said the figures were another positive development coming on the back of Norwegian Air’s launch of low-cost transatlantic services from Cork, Shannon and Dublin this summer, which will contribute further to tourism growth from North America.

Business: 16


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