Latest figures show further growth in "best year ever" for Irish tourism

Overseas tourists spent almost €1.7bn in Ireland from July to September this year - an increase of 9.2% on 2015

Star Wars, Skellig Michael, Tourism Ireland, Ireland, The Force Awakens, behind the scenes, JJ Abrams

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The latest tourism figures have seen a further increase in the number of overseas visitors to Ireland.

CSO data released today shows an increase of more than 10% in the number of overseas tourists visiting Ireland in the third quarter of 2016 when compared to the same period last year.

The data shows that tourists spent almost €1.7bn in Ireland from July to September this year - an increase of 9.2% on 2015.

Tourism Ireland - the state body with responsibility for overseas tourism - has welcomed the figures and CEO Niall Gibbons said the first nine months of 2016 saw the economy benefit by an extra €304m through overseas visitors.

“This was a strong performance and reflects the sentiment we’ve been hearing from our tourism industry partners, both overseas and here at home,” said Mr Gibbons.

“We’ve just launched our marketing plans for 2017, which will see us build on this year’s growth to deliver €5.7 billion (+4.5%) in overseas tourism revenue to the economies north and south, by welcoming 10.6 million visitors.”

Mr Gibbons also welcomed the growth in visitor numbers from Ireland’s three main markets - Britain, mainland Europe and North America.

Tourism bodies have hailed 2016 as “the best year ever” for Irish tourism with a total of 10.5 million people expected to have visited by the end of the year.