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Ireland’s Central Statistics Office have release their latest study on Visitors to Ireland and Tourism Ireland has welcomed the exceptional 18.4% growth in numbers for the period from November 2015 to January 2016. According to the tourism industry experts, 2016 is set to be another record year.

American visitors were a key market in the surge of visitors. Ireland gave a hearty 'céad míle fáilte' to 19.4% more Americans during the months from Nov to Jan than in the previous winter. Numbers were up from all markets around the world including Britain (+17.5%), Mainland Europe (+21.1%) and from Australia and developing markets (+10.6%).

Read more: US visitors spent record $1.2 billion dollars in Ireland last year -13% growth

Tourism Ireland is the organization responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination. Niall Gibbons, CEO of the organization welcomed the figures saying they “represent a very positive start to 2016, as we roll out our promotional program around the world.”

Gibbon noted that the figures represent 271,400 additional visitors to Ireland when compared with the same three-month period last year.

He added, “It is particularly encouraging that we’ve seen 17% growth in overseas visitors in the month of January alone.”

Read more: Over 2m Americans will get a glimpse of Ireland during NYC’s St. Patrick’s Day parade

Gibbons continued: “Our focus now is on the year ahead. We aim to surpass the success of 2015 and keep the momentum going, to ensure that 2016 is another record-breaking year for overseas tourism. Our promotions will receive a tremendous boost next month, with our Global Greening initiative for St Patrick’s Day set to be even bigger and better than ever before. St Patrick’s Day traditionally marks the real start of the tourism season for us and we will be taking every opportunity to capitalize on Ireland’s heightened profile.

Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 200,000 people. In 2015, Ireland welcomed more than 8.6 million overseas visitors to Ireland, delivering revenue of about €4.2 billion.