The number of overseas holidaymakers visiting Ireland soared by 28% in the first quarter of 2016 to 691,000.
Figures from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office also show that revenue from overseas visitors grew by 18% in Q1 – an additional €102 million for the economy compared with Q1 in 2015. Total overseas visitors grew by 16%, or 217,000 extra visitors.
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “This was an excellent performance and reflects the sentiment we’ve been hearing from our tourism partners overseas and here at home.
“As we head into the high season, we are determined to ensure that tourism growth continues.
“We have an extensive programme of promotions under way around the world, reminding prospective visitors everywhere that there has never been a better time to come and discover the island of Ireland.”
The latest SOAR (Situation & Outlook Analysis Report) from Tourism Ireland said: “Industry sentiment on the island of Ireland remains positive, with enquiries and bookings generally reported to be ahead of, or on par with, 2015 levels.
“The outlook from overseas trade partners is also positive.”
However, it noted that hotel capacity in some urban areas is a key issue for many tour operators and a “potential barrier” to further growth.
A survey by Tourism Ireland suggests that two thirds of overseas tour operators see room availability in Dublin as their ‘biggest challenge’ to growth.
• The latest element of Tourism Ireland’s 2016 Game of Thrones campaign has been revealed as a painting in the Ulster Museum which has been re-imagined to include mythical characters from TV series.
The painting – Landscape with Sheep by William Mark Fisher – has been ‘updated’ and now includes a Game of Thrones giant and dragon.
The new painting is on display in the Ulster Museum alongside the original, and will remain on display until September.
Pictured with Gibbons (left) are tourism minister Simon Hamilton and Laura McCorry, director of corporate development of Tourism NI, beside the re-imagined painting in the Ulster Museum.