THE tourism boom continued over the winter with an 8pc increase in visitor numbers in the period November 2013 to January 2014.
The figures from the Central Statistics Office show that some 1.35 million overseas visitors came to Ireland over the three months, which was up over 100,000 on the same period last year.
The number of north American visitors grew by nearly 15pc, while there were an extra 49,800 British visitors, which was an increase of 8.5pc.
There was also an 18pc increase in German tourists, but fewer French, Italians and Scandinavians came to our shores. Some 6.985 million people visited this country in 2013, up nearly a million from 2010.
Irish people also took more trips abroad than last year, with 1.197 million people travelling overseas, up 1.4pc on the same period a year ago.
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said that last year was the best for tourism since 2009, with visitor numbers growing by 7.2pc. "We want to build on that success and have set challenging targets to grow visitor numbers by another 4pc this year and revenue by 8pc."
"The cut in the air travel tax to zero comes into effect in April and more than 24 new routes will start this year. This increased capacity should help us to grow visitor numbers."
Ireland will be heavily promoted around the world next month at St Patrick's Day parades and festivals, with many famous landmarks "greened" for the day.