Irish tourism remains on course for a record year in terms of visitors to the island, according the latest CSO figures.
Ireland experienced an increase of 11.7 per cent in visitor numbers in the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2014, with 407,100 more visitors arriving here. Some 3,876,200 visits were recorded in total.
The amount of North American visits spiked by 14.7 per cent to 659,200 since the start of 2015. According to the CSO figures, this now means that one in 10 US visitors to Europe now visit Ireland.
Visits from mainland Europe were not far behind, growing 13 per cent to 1, 376,900. Great Britain was up by 9.4 per cent to 1.612 million.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said that today’s figures indicate that this was 'the best ever January to June period for overseas visitors to Ireland'.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland has welcomed the latest CSO data.
Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Adrian Cummins, said: "The official figures confirm what many of our restaurant members have reported, that visitor numbers are up. When a tourist visits the country, they must eat out at least three times a day, and giving them positive experiences in our restaurants is a great way to secure a repeat visit."
He added: "Feedback we’re hearing from visitors is that Ireland is great value to dine out at the moment, and we’re trying to sustain that value with our campaign to keep the VAT on food and hospitality at 9 per cent. Over 33,000 jobs have been created since the introduction of the VAT rate at 9 per cent. Measures like the reduction of VAT in 2011, The Gathering, the Wild Atlantic Way and the newly established Ireland’s Ancient East work hand-in-hand to bring visitors into the country and keep them coming back."