Ireland breaks million visitor milestone in first two months of 2016
Overseas visits to Ireland rose 17pc in the three months from December to February, according to CSO figures published today.
The Central Statistics Office figures show that, for the first time ever, over one million overseas visitors entered the country in the first two months of the year.
Traditionally, Irish tourism slows down during the the winter months, with the new season picking up steam around St. Patrick's Day.
Today's figures show that 247,000 extra visitors came to Ireland when compared with the same period in 2014/15, however.
"Today’s data shows that the significant growth in overseas visit numbers witnessed in recent years is continuing into 2016," said Tourism Minister, Paschal Donohoe.
Ireland saw a record 8.6 million visitors in 2015, with the government's Tourism Action Plan seeking to achieve 10 million annual visitors by 2025.
The CSO figures show visits from North America rose 13pc, while Great Britain was up 21.2pc and visits from mainland Europe jumped 14pc.
"Our focus now is on surpassing last year’s success, to ensure that 2016 is another record-breaking year for overseas tourism," said Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland.
Fáilte Ireland recently announced that it will invest €55 million in developing and promoting tourism this year, with the bulk of the spending across its three main propositions - 'Dublin - A Breath of Fresh Air', the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland's Ancient East, which is expected to get its official launch in May.
It has identified a shortage in Dublin hotel rooms and the dominance of traditional "honeypots" as potential threats to future tourism, however.