The number of overseas travellers to Ireland increased by 16.6 per cent in the three-month period between January and March 2016 compared to the corresponding period last year, according to the latest figures released by the CSO.
A total of 1.785 million people touched down in the country over the time. Visitors from the UK registered an increase of 17.3%, while North America was up by 24.5%. Meanwhile, visits from Mainland Europe were up by 14.1% and rest of the world increased by 8%.
Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, welcomed the positive data, commenting: "Today’s data for the first quarter of 2016 shows continued strong growth in our overseas visit numbers which is welcome. Of course, the fact that Easter fell in March this year, along with the associated 1916 commemorative events, provided an added boost to these first quarter figures.
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Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, added: "Today's figures represent an excellent start to the year, as we roll out our promotional programme around the world. It was the best ever March and the best ever first quarter for Irish tourism.
"These figures very much reflect the sentiment expressed by our tourism industry partners overseas, including tour operators and carriers, as well as tourism businesses here at home. Our focus now is on surpassing last year’s success, to ensure that 2016 is another record-breaking year for overseas tourism. Promoting the Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route continues to be a major focus for Tourism Ireland. We are also showcasing Ireland’s Ancient East and Dublin ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’."