The number of US tourists visiting Ireland has returned to the level of before the 11 September attacks five years ago.

Figures from the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation show there's been an 11% increase in visitors from the United States this year.

The number of British tourists went up by 5%.

Overall, 7.5 million tourists visited Ireland this year, generating around €6 billion for the economy.

Irish Tourist Industry Confederation described 2006 as a 'memorable year'.

Approval for a second terminal at Dublin Airport and the success of the Ryder Cup were among the highlights in its end of year review.

The ITIC said the development of a national conference centre at Spencer Dock in Dublin's Docklands will only enhance Ireland's reputation abroad.

It also said that visitor numbers for 2007 are expected to reach 8 million.