2016 was a record year for Irish tourism, according to the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation.

However, it also warns that the industry faces some serious challenges in 2017, including Brexit.

The tourism industry was worth over €8 billion to the Irish economy in 2016 - surpassing all previous records.

Figures show the number of international visitors increased to 8.8 million - up 10% on the previous year.

Domestic tourism demand also picked up generating an estimated €1.75 billion, with a further €300m coming from visitors from Northern Ireland. 

The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation says increased air access from international markets and a weak euro contributed to the strong growth.

"It has been a remarkable year for Irish tourism with record visitor numbers in both volume and value terms. 20,000 new jobs have been created in the sector in the last year and tourism is now Ireland's largest indigenous employer," commented Paul Gallagher, ITIC's chairman.

However, the Confederation warns that the industry is facing a number of challenges in 2017 - including a lack of hotel accommodation in Dublin and Brexit.

Sterling has also weakened over the past number of months and that makes it more expensive for British people to holiday here.

But despite these concerns and capacity constraints, ITIC believes the tourism industry can grow by a further 5% in overseas visitors and 7% in export revenue in 2017, given the healthy state of key source market economies and the increased air access into Ireland.