Read more: Tourism Ireland targets growing U.S. market – SEE VIDEOS

Though overall Irish tourism numbers for the last quarter of 2010 were down on previous figures, there was a bright spot for those involved in the industry – the all-important North American market showed a nearly 14% increase in the number of visitors making the trip across the Atlantic to the Emerald Isle.

According to the Central Statistics Office in Dublin, more than 201,000 North Americans journeyed to Ireland during the last three months of 2010.  The 13.9% increase was in marked contrast to the figure posted by visitors from the U.K.  This number decreased by 8.7% to 657,600.

Overall for 2010, some 1.4 million tourists traveled to Ireland, a 2.2% decline from 2009.  However, Irish tourism officials will take encouragement from the late year surge in American visitors.

“This is an encouraging basis on which Tourism Ireland will build in 2011,” Tourism Ireland Chief Executive Niall Gibbons said.

“Overseas tourism has a critical role to play in contributing to Ireland’s economic recovery. Overseas tourism business accounts for 63%, approximately €3 billion, of all tourism revenue and has the capacity to deliver even more for Ireland as part of an export-led economic renewal.”

The figures unveiled on Thursday also showed that Irish citizens aren’t traveling abroad as much as they used to.

For 2010, just over 6.5 million foreign trips were taken by Irish people, down from more than seven million in 2009.

Read more: Tourism Ireland targets growing U.S. market – SEE VIDEOS