More than one million North Americans visited Ireland in 2016, the first time the milestone has ever been broken.
The figures were revealed in this week’s preliminary Tourism Facts 2016 – a compilation of Irish tourism findings published by Fáilte Ireland.
The report provides details on where tourists came from, where they went in Ireland, why overseas tourists came to the country, where they stayed and what they did while they were here.
Ireland clocked a record number of visitors last year, the report states – up 8.8pc to 8.742 million. Dublin was the most popular port of call, with 5.69m visits and 64pc of all tourists were first-time visitors.
The report reveals that Britain remains Ireland’s biggest source market for overseas tourists, representing 41pc of all such visits.
Both Fáilte and Tourism Ireland have been working to diversify markets in recent years, with Brexit and the sterling/euro exchange taking a toll on British visitor numbers, which have fallen over 10pc in the first quarter of 2017.
However, British visitors do not spend as much as their North American counterparts – accounting for a total revenue of €1.11bn in 2016, versus €1.34bn. This, despite the fact that North Americans make up a much smaller proportion of visitors, at 17pc.
After Britain, Ireland’s second-biggest source market is Mainland Europe, which accounts for 36pc of international volume, according to Fáilte Ireland.
Ireland attracted a total tourism revenue of €8.31 billion in 2016.
Fáilte Ireland’s head of research, Caeman Wall, said the comprehensive reference guide for tourism in Ireland provides them with the necessary insights for planning and developing future tourism.
“While we have known for some time that 2016 was a record year for tourism, this week’s report adds more layers to our understanding of that performance”, Mr. Wall added
Fáilte Ireland draws on a wide range of sources in compiling the annual report, including the Central Statistics Office and its own visitor surveys.