IRELAND has surpassed Paris as the top holiday destination for 2011 in a global poll by a prestigious tourist guide.
Almost a third of readers of Frommer's guide books chose Ireland as their favourite holiday destination for next year -- narrowly beating the City of Lights as the readers' favourite.
Some 7,300 voters chose Ireland over other tourist hotspots including Egypt, Hawaii, Australia, Italy, Greece, Alaska, New Zealand and Germany.
Visitors cited the landscape, ancient attractions and the overall beauty of the Emerald Isle as their main reasons.
"I love being out in the country, rambling around, exploring megalithic sites, having tea in small shops," said a reader.
"Beer, castles, lush landscapes, small enough to explore via bicycle or car," were the reasons given by another reader.
The stronger US dollar and a drastic reduction in the price of food and lodgings last year were also among the reasons cited.
But Ireland didn't make the guide's Top Destinations list for 2011, which is compiled by the guide's writers and editors.
The coastline of Kent in England was top of the 12 chosen destinations for next year, followed by Stockholm, Sweden and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
But the guide lavished praise on many of Ireland's natural attractions.
Frommer's editorial director David Lytle said Ireland should be proud of what the country has to offer visitors.
"Ireland has always been a very popular destination for our readers. There are people who go there again, and again and again," he told the Irish Independent last night.
"It's a storybook destination for people and it's very accessible," he said.
Despite its popularity, Irish tourism suffered one of its worst years in 2009 with an 11.6pc decrease in overseas visits. Figures for 2010 have not yet been released.