The most recent survey of overseas visitors to Ireland has found that 'the people and the pubs' are what tourists enjoy most.

Overseas holidaymakers continue to rate Ireland as value for money and that the people, scenery and culture remain Irish tourism's strongest assets.

Minister for Transport and Tourism Leo Varadkar said, “With more than half of all visitors planning to return, these findings are very encouraging and show that the twin attractions of Irish people and place are still working.

“The Government’s policy of giving people great things to see and do in Ireland, combined with key economic measures like the 9% tourism VAT rate, and selling this to overseas visitors, does seem to be working.

“I’m encouraged that Ireland is still a value for money destination. As tourism recovers, we must resist the temptation to fall back into the habits we saw during the boom. It’s imperative that we maintain our good value and warm welcome to ensure a sustainable recovery in the sector.”

Almost four out of ten overseas visitors reported that their experience in Ireland exceeded their expectations, while a further six out of ten said that Ireland met their expectations.

According to the survey, the best things about Ireland were: the Irish people – 68%, scenery – 54%, Irish history and culture – 31%, weather better than expected – 30%, food quality and variety – 21%.

More than half said they would definitely return in the next few years, while a further 40% hoped to return at some time in the future.

Encouragingly, in the long haul market, 79% of North Americans said they would definitely be endorsing Ireland.

What exactly did our overseas visitors get up to in Ireland in 2013? When surveyed, the top five experiences mentioned by overseas visitors were:

• “Listened to live music in a pub” – 83%

• “Visited a coastal town” – 82%

• “Tasted a Guinness” – 79%

• “Visited a food or craft market” – 49%

• “Took part in a city tour” – 41%