HOTEL owners in Dublin were blessed on St Patrick's Day as thousands of American tourists flooded in for The Gathering and parade celebrations.
The national tourism development authority, Failte Ireland, said hoteliers reported the best St Patrick's weekend for years.
There was a noticeable increase in room occupancy in the run-up to the weekend and into this week.
Hotels enjoyed many group bookings by North Americans, Northern and British visitors, as well as visitors from other parts of the country.
Failte Ireland said many of the most popular hotels in Dublin city centre were at 100pc occupancy. This was an increase on last year's performance, which was almost 85pc and considered excellent at the time. "This St Patrick's Day bounce bodes well for our expectations for The Gathering this year and hopefully will be start of a pattern this season," said Shaun Quinn, CEO of Failte Ireland.
"With an enhanced St Patrick's festival, this was our biggest March tourism push to date, and the performance of hotels in the city really confirms that events do drive business in Dublin."
He said Irish hotels were still managing the trick of providing good value with impressive quality, despite the downturn.
"It is imperative now that everybody with a stake in The Gathering or tourism, keeps their eye on the prize and helps to drive this type of performance throughout the year," he added.