North American tourists who visited Ireland for the Notre Dame/Navy game provided a welcome boost to the economy.

An additional 43,700 tourists travelled from North America over the three month period, a 15 percent increase on the same period last year.

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) there was an overall 1.6 percent increase in tourists travelling to Ireland between August and October of this year, in comparison to last year.

The figures also show a slight increase in Irish people travelling overseas with 5,514,700 trips made this year.

North America and mainland Europe are expected to be the key focus for increasing tourist numbers next year.

Ireland’s tourism minister, Leo Varadkar is hopeful that a boost in overseas visitors will contribute €3.7 billion (479 billion) to the economy in 2013, reports the Irish Independent.

Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons explained that tourism numbers from countries, which fared better in the recession such as France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland was on the increase.

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“The performance of mainland European markets has been quite strong,” Gibbons said.

“Visitor numbers from North America and long-haul markets like Australia look set to reach or even exceed the record levels of 2007.

“But it has been a mixed year with Dublin, other cities as well as the tourist honeypots doing quite well, but with rural and outlying areas finding the going harder.

“Visitor numbers from Great Britain, our largest market, have been disappointing with a flat economy and weak consumer confidence having a significant impact on travel by Britons throughout the year.”

According to stats from the Central Statistics Office the number of tourists visiting Ireland last year rose by 7.9 percent.