Ireland has a bumper year of tourism ahead of The Gathering 2013

The arrival gates at Dublin Airport.

The number of overseas visitors to Irish shores jumped by more than half a million in 2011.
New figures show that Ireland enjoyed a bumper year for tourism with 6.6 million tourists coming to the country last year.

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), visitors from overseas increased by 7.9 percent between 2010 and 2011.

The CSO estimated that overseas visitors spent almost €3.6 million during their trips.

Responding to the news, Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland chief executive, said the continued success will depend on the state of overseas economies.

"The 11pc increase in holiday visitors is very encouraging, particularly as the increases occur across all market areas," he said.

"Growth in visitor numbers will depend to a large extent on improved economic conditions and consumer confidence in our source markets."

Key findings of the report include:
•    The number of overseas trips made by Irish residents fell by 277,000 in 2011.
•    Total overseas tourism and travel earnings increased from €3,556 million in 2010 to €3,580 million in 2011.
•    The number of bed nights occupied by overseas travellers to Ireland rose by 6.1% in 2011, increasing from 48 million to 50.9 million bed nights.
•    In 2011, over 6.6 million overseas trips were made to Ireland compared to just over 6.1 million trips in 2010, an increase of 7.9 percent.
•    Total overseas tourism and travel expenditure of Irish residents declined by 7.2 percent, from €5,211 million in 2010 to €4,835 million in 2011.