Around 8,000 readers of Virtuoso Life magazine took part in the 7th annual Travel Dreams survey, in which Ireland also emerged as the third favourite family vacation.
Australia, Italy, and New Zealand took the top three slots in this year’s Travel Dreams survey but Ireland was ahead of France, South Africa, the Caribbean, Greece, England, and French Polynesia.
Last year, Ireland came in at number nine in the same survey.
Australia has held the top slot for three years running and England has appeared in the top 10 for the first time.
Welcoming the survey results, Tourism Ireland’s chief executive Niall Gibbons said Virtuoso Life readers were discerning, sophisticated and well-travelled.
The readers also had a strong desire for authentic experiences, which Ireland has to offer “in spades”.
He said Tourism Ireland had been working hard in the US to build awareness of the island of Ireland as a premier vacation destination.
Mr Gibbons believed that they were now on course to achieve their best year ever from the US market.
“This year, we hope to welcome over 1m American visitors, spending about US$1bn,” he said.
Virtuoso is an invitation- only network of more than 330 travel agents specialising in luxury travel, and its bi-monthly magazine is distributed to around 200,000 affluent travellers.
Just ahead of Ireland in the top 10 favourite family vacations was an Alaskan cruise and an African safari. However, Ireland was ahead of the Galapagos Islands and the US national parks.
Ireland did not feature on the most exciting cities — Paris was the number one city, followed by the Italian capital, Rome, and London.
And the aul’ sod did not feature as a favourite trip for two — a Mediterranean cruise was the top choice, followed by Paris in April and a Caribbean resort.
Paris, Rome, and Florence were the top three places favoured for dinner reservations, with Paris a runaway favourite.
When it came to the holiday of a lifetime, the top choice was a world cruise, followed by renting a European villa and photographing the ‘big five’ game animals in Africa.
3. New Zealand.
6. South Africa.
7. The Caribbean.
10. French Polynesia.
1. African safari.
2. Alaskan cruise.
3. Ireland’s castles and countryside.
4. Galapagos Islands.
5. US national parks.
6. Child-friendly cruise.
7. Royal tourof London.
8. Australian outback.
9. Machu Picchu (lost city of the Incas, Peru).
10. Theme park, VIP-style.